How to Plan for a Free and Cheap Flu Shot This Year Updated

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Late summer and into fall is a great time to get your flu shot, especially a cheap flu shot. Here’s why you want to get a flu shot this year, regardless of price.

First, with plenty of people still getting sick from the virus, you don’t want to add the seasonal flu on top of that.

Second, it’s shown that people who get the flu shot get a less severe case of the flu, so says the CDC. So, if you do end up getting the flu, it’s not as bad as without the shot. Finally, many people don’t get the flu at all, thanks to the flu vaccine.

The one year I didn’t get a flu vaccine

If you have pre-existing conditions, such as asthma, you can get really really sick if you get the flu. I learned this the hard way the one year I didn’t get a flu shot, and I got the flu.

It was awful. We’re talking pneumonia, months-long fatigue and more.

From then on I was convinced–I must get a flu shot. Most years I try to get the flu shot as soon as it’s available. But there have been times I got my flu shot in January, and I never got sick.

Why write about free and cheap flu shots

Even better, I believe in getting a free or cheap flu shot. It’s important to invest in your health with an annual flu vaccine.

That’s why I’ve written this post on flu shot deals and have updated it each year to reflect new offers. Hopefully, this blog post will answer the questions “Are there free flu shots near me in this year?” or “Are there free flu shots near me without insurance?” or “Where can I go to get a free flu shot without insurance?”

Why my flu shots have always been free

Because I have asthma, my flu shots have always been free. (Read: pre-existing condition.) But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I believe that most people with insurance now qualify for a free flu shot or at least a cheap flu shot.

Also, Americans who have Medicare Part B may not have to pay for their flu shot. If you are a Medicare Part B participant, check first before rolling up your sleeve for your flu shot.

Interested in a concierge doctor? This article explains how they work.

Flu shots and the COVID vaccine

With the possible new COVID booster coming in the fall, this year you may want to time getting your flu shot with the booster. What’s great is you don’t have to have any interval in between getting one vaccine or the other. You can get the flu shot at the same time as your COVID vaccine or booster shot.

The only situation when you shouldn’t get a COVID vaccine or booster shot and the flu shot? If you’re sick with either virus. But this advice isn’t new: you should never get a vaccine while currently dealing with an active infection of the disease you are trying to get inoculated against.

Finally, many retailers and other companies are offer vaccine incentives for getting a shot. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included the most recent freebies, rewards and other vaccine incentives.

Cheap flu shots no insurance

But what about people who don’t have insurance or who aren’t old enough to qualify for Medicare? There are still ways you can get cheap flu shots, even if you have no insurance.

Here are 11 ideas on where you can go for free or cheap flu shots this year, including a no insurance flu shot.

Remember: it’s never too late to get that flu shot. Flu shot prices will vary based on where you get your shot. It could be the cost of your copay or it could be free.

1. Cheap Flu Shot at the Drugstore or Pharmacy

Most of the major drugstores and pharmacy chains are likely to offer flu shots. Many take insurance, meaning that your flu shot may end up being free. Some stores offer different flu vaccine incentives. 

I believe the chances are pretty good that you live near at least one of the drugstore or pharmacies mentioned below. Therefore, you should be able to find free flu shots near you and me without insurance.

Flu shots Targettarget flu shot shots cvs

CVS has free-standing stores as well as the pharmacies inside Target stores. There are deals on flu shots there, too.

Target gift card for flu shot

You’ll get a $5 Target coupon when you get a no-cost flu shot. So a free flu shot and $5 off at Target. Sweet.

This coupon, by the way, is just like when you get a $5 Target gift card when you buy something advertised. 

You’ll get an additional $5 when you fill 10 prescriptions at the Target CVS pharmacy, too. So head there for Target flu shots and to fill your CVS prescription, too.

Walgreens free flu shots

Another drugstore option is Walgreens. This year Walgreens is advertising a cheap flu shot option. In addition, you’ll get $5 cash back in rewards when you get your flu shot at Walgreens.

Cash back on your flu shot

Did you shop at either of these stores after getting your flu shot? Be sure to scan your receipt via the Ibotta shopping app to get cash back on those purchases.

Here’s my review of the Ibotta shopping app

2. Cheap Flu Shots at the Supermarket

Many supermarkets have a pharmacy inside. It makes it much more convenient to grocery shop and pick up prescriptions. It’s a time saver to have your flu shot done at the supermarket, too.

Ask your local supermarket pharmacy about flu shot availability. You might be able to get it for free, with insurance, or just really cheap.

Here is how to place your supermarket order online.

Note: some supermarket pharmacies will only give a flu shot to those age 18 or older. I learned this the hard way when I took my then-17 year old daughter to get a flu shot, and we were turned away.

Supermarkets with flu shots

Here are some of the supermarkets offering flu shots this year:

Harris Teeter

You can make a Harris Teeter pharmacy flu shot appointment using this link.

Kroger

Schedule a Kroger flu shot using this link. Last year Kroger was giving away free gift cards as an incentive for people to get vaccines. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the same giveaway for 2022 flu season.

Meijer

Your Meijer Pharmacy flu shots will count towards mPerks Pharmacy Rewards, as long as they are not government funded.

Publix

You can qualify for a Publix free flu shot in one of these two ways, which I grabbed from a Publix press release:

“Flu immunizations are available at no charge through most insurance plans. Publix accepts Medicare Part B and many other third-party insurance plans as payment for flu shots, as specified by provider health plans.”

3. Big Box Store Flu Shot Offers

As I mentioned above, at Target you’ll get a $5 Target coupon when you get a no-cost flu shot. But Target is hardly the only big box store offering a free or cheap flu shot.

Some Kmart stores have pharmacies in them. Costco and other warehouse clubs have a pharmacy, and free or low-cost flu shots, too.

Can you get a Costco flu shot without membership

Here are two things you may not know about the Coscto pharmacy. One, anyone can get a prescription filled at Costco. And two, anyone can get a flu shot at Costco. You can just walk in for these services.

So, you do not need to be a Costco member to take advantage of the company’s pharmacy services. However, now is a great time to sign up for a Coscto membership. Why? Because the member pricing for a flu shot (without insurance) is just $19.99.

Join Costco today. Get a $20 Costco Shop Card as a new Executive Member. Or, get a $10 Costco Shop Card as a new Gold Star Member.

(Note: Valid only for nonmembers for their first year of membership. Limit one per household. Nontransferable and may not be combined with any other promotion. You must join in person with a Costco representative. New members will receive their Costco Shop Card by mail in 4 to 6 weeks. Costco Shop Cards are not redeemable for cash, except where required by law. A Costco membership is $60 a year. An Executive Membership is an additional $60 upgrade fee a year. Each membership includes one free Household Card. May be subject to sales tax. Costco accepts all Visa® cards, as well as cash, checks, debit/ATM cards, EBT and Costco Shop Cards. Departments and product selection may vary.)

Here is my review of Costco versus Boxed. Hint: Costco wins!

4. Urgent Care Clinic

You can visit your local urgent care clinic for cheap flu shots, too. For example, American Family Care, the nation’s largest urgent care chain, has flu shots available for walk-in appointments.

On Veterans Day 2021, American Family Care was offering veterans free flu shots. This is good to know if you are a veteran or have a family member who is one. Hopefully, they’ll offer the same this year.

5. Free Prescription Drug Card

Even with insurance my prescriptions can cost a bundle. I’ve noticed that many supermarket pharmacies have started prescription drug card programs to help ease the financial burden of prescription drugs.

One company offers a no-strings-attached free prescription drug card, which can help you get cheap flu shots. Called BuzzRX (formerly Watertree Health) the company provides access to affordable prescription drug coverage through their free prescription drug card. They say prices can be up to 75% lower than regular pharmacy prices.

6. State, County and Local Free Flu Shot Clinics

Every year Departments of Health roll out free flu shot clinics. For example, last year San Diego County had multiple flu shot events. All shots were free. My guess is they’ll have them again this year.

Check the Department of Health in your state or county to see if/when there might be an upcoming flu shot clinic. This should help you find free flu shots near you and answer your question, “How do I find a free flu shot clinic near me?” This is an especially good option if you’re looking for a free flu shot without insurance.

7. Colleges and Universities

Got a kid in college? Send him or her to health services for a flu shot. Chances are it is free. It’s a great way for students to get a flu shot.

If you live near a college or university, that institution may extend its free and cheap flu shot offers to those in the neighborhood.

8. Your Employer May Offer a Free or Cheap Flu Shot

Employers know it is good business sense to encourage their employees not to get sick. That’s why so many offer free flu shots.

First, ask your human resources department if your company is having flu shot clinics this year. Next, find out where those clinics will be held. You may have to travel to a different company location, but it will be worth the trip. Finally, find out if you need to make an appointment for your shot or if you can just walk in.

9. Health Systems and Hospitals

Sometimes hospitals or health systems will offer walk-in flu shot clinics. Many of these health systems have magazines that they mail to members or at least residents living close by.

These magazines should include a list of any upcoming flu shot clinics. Look in the section where these magazines often list free classes or workshops that they offer.

You may also look in your email inbox for alerts or your health portal that you use to communicate with your doctor. My local health system is having a free drive-through flu shot clinic next month; a push notification on my phone altered me.

10. Union Organizations

A friend of mine is an actress in New York City and, as such, is a member of the Actors’ Equity, a union. Her union qualifies her for a free flu shot each year.

So if you or a family member has a union membership, check with your union rep about any upcoming flu shot clinics.

11. Flu Shots at the Airport

Are you going out of town? Did you forgot to get your flu shot? You may be in luck as a handful of U.S. airports have medical clinics on site (or close nearby) that offer immunizations. Some of these airports are in San Francisco, New York City, Nashville, Atlanta and Chicago.

Preservative free flu shots

I know that you’ve likely come to this article to find out where you can go to get a free or cheap flu shot. But maybe you want information about preservative free flu shots.

Back when I used to wear contact lenses, I could use only solution without thimerosal. Some people may want themierosal-free flu shots as well.

Here’s what you need to know about that: any flu shot that comes as a pre-filled syringe does not have any preservatives in it. You’ll only find preservatives in a vial that is designed to be used for multiple shots. Pre-filled syringes are for one use only. Many COVID shots are single-use shots.

So if you’re concerned about finding a preservative free flu shot, ask your pharmacist if they use a prefilled syringe. If so, then you should be good to go.

For example, Costco lists its flu shots as “Suspension Prefilled Syringe.” Therefore, I feel confident in saying these are thimerasol, preservative-free flu vaccines.

Egg free flu vaccine

A friend of mine is allergic to eggs. That meant that for many years, she could not get a flu shot. Why? Because companies “grow” flu vaccines in an egg-based solution.

Or at least they used to do this.

According to the CDC, starting last year, there were two egg-free flu vaccines. They are:

  • Flublok Quadrivalent (licensed for use in adults 18 years and older)
  • Flucelvax Quadrivalent (licensed for use in people 6 months and older)

Overall thoughts on free flu shots this year

Now that I’ve outlined where you can go for a free or cheap flu shot, let’s go over good hygiene that could help keep you from getting sick in the first place. This is likely advice you’ve been hearing a lot lately:

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