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.
It’s shown that people who get the flu shot get a less severe case of the flu, so says the CDC, if they do end up getting it. Many don’t get the flu at all.
I learned this the hard way the one year I didn’t get a flu shot, and I got the flu. It was awful. 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.
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.
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.
But what about people who don’t have insurance or who aren’t old enough to qualify for Medicare? Here are 11 ideas on where you can go for free or cheap flu shots this year. Remember: it’s not too late to get that flu shot.
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 shot incentives.CVS has free-standing stores as well as the pharmacies inside Target stores. There are deals on flu shots there, too. You’ll get a $5 Target coupon when you get a no-cost flu shot. So a free flu shot and $5 off. Sweet. You’ll get an additional $5 when you fill 10 prescriptions at the Target CVS pharmacy, too.
Another drugstore option is Walgreens, which lets you give back when you get your flu shot, with its “get a shot, give a shot” program. This program helps people in developing countries receiving life-saving immunizations. Keep in mind that the same company owns Walgreens and Duane Reade.
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.
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. Ask your local supermarket pharmacy about flu shot availability. You might be able to get it for free, with insurance, or just really cheap.
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.
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.
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, American Family Care was offering veterans free flu shots–good to remember for next fall.
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 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. Check the Department of Health in your state or county to see if/when there might be an upcoming flu shot clinic.
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. Then 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.
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.
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.
Now that we’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.
- Traveling anytime soon? Consider investing in a flu face mask to wear when you’re in large crowds. I’ve started to see people wearing masks on trains and planes here in the United States.
- Wash your hands often and always before touching your face.
- Can’t get to a sink and soap? Always have hand sanitizer on you. You can buy travel-sized containers of hand sanitizer in bulk on Amazon.
- Most importantly if you think you might have the flu, stay home. People are dying from the flu, and you really can’t risk infecting other people.