Free Flu Shots Near Me? 14 Free and Cheap Options (CVS, Walgreens…)

We’ve all been there — one minute you feel fine and the next you’re in the clutches of your couch, coddling the tissues and cocooned under ten layers of blankets. Millions of people in the U.S. get influenza, commonly known as the flu, each year. By getting vaccinated you could avoid the whole flu fiasco. But can you afford it?

This article covers what you need to know about getting a flu shot, including where to get a flu shot for free or cheap.

Where to Get Free Flu Shots

1. Your Employer

Check with your employer to see if they will offer free flu shots this year. The inevitable decrease in productivity and increase in absences due to the flu is enough incentive for many employers to offer free flu shots for their employees.

2. Your Local Physician

Under the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance is required to cover your annual flu shot without a co-payment or coinsurance charge, though some health insurance plans will only cover flu shots given by your doctor or at specific locations. Medicare Part B plan fully covers flu shots. If you’re covered and can get an appointment with your local physician, this is an easy option.

3. Your County Health Department

Free flu shots are available through many county health departments. Contact your local health department to see if they will offer free flu shots this year. It may be as easy as looking at your health department’s website and showing up on the day they are offered. Your only inconvenience will be the inevitable long lines.

4. Your College Health Center

Higher education is expensive — flu shots shouldn’t be! Many state schools and universities offer free or reduced-cost flu shots to students and employees. Check with your school’s health center to learn if flu shots are available to you.

Where to Get Cheap Flu Shots

There are plenty of pharmacies and retailers that offer inexpensive flu shots, whether you have insurance or not. Of course, if you are insured, your vaccine will likely be free of charge — you may even score some extra savings by choosing one of the options below rather than a doctor’s office.

If you are not located near one of the following retailers, all hope is not lost! The CDC has made it easy to locate a map of pharmacies, health clinics, and other vaccine providers near you with the CDC’s online vaccine locator.

Depending on your location, the prices below may vary. For most stores, information on accepted insurance is limited. Fortunately, the following retailers do not require an appointment, so pop in or call ahead to verify the details.

Costco

You do not need a Costco membership to get a flu shot.

  • Price: $19.99 for seasonal four-strain flu shot.
  • Vaccines Available at Costco: Standard trivalent vaccines.
  • Accepted insurance plans: All major forms of insurance accepted.
  • Immunization consent form: Save time and fill out your Costco Immunization Consent Form ahead of time.
  • Find a Costco near you.

CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic (walk-in clinics located inside CVS Pharmacies)

A $5 off $25 shopping pass is offered to anyone who receives a flu shot at CVS or MinuteClinic.

Kmart

  • Price: $35 for standard trivalent.
  • Vaccines Available at Kmart: Standard trivalent vaccines.
  • Accepted insurance plans: All major forms of insurance accepted.
  • Find a Kmart near you

Kroger

  • Price: $40 for standard trivalent, $60 for quadrivalent.
  • Vaccines Available at Kroger: Standard trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines.
  • Accepted insurance plans: Most forms of insurance accepted.
  • Find a Kroger pharmacy near you

Meijer

  • Price: $35.99 for standard trivalent, $59.99 for high-dose
  • Vaccines Available at Meijer: Trivalent and high-dose.
  • Accepted insurance plans: Most forms of insurance accepted.
  • Find a Meijer near you.

Rite Aid

 Sam’s Club

You do not need a Sam’s Club membership to get a flu shot; however, Sam’s Club members receive an 8% discount off immunizations.

  • Price: $31.99 for trivalent, $54.99 for quadrivalent. 
  • Vaccines Available: Standard trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines.You do not need a Sam’s Club membership to get a flu shot. 
  • Accepted insurance plans: All major forms of insurance accepted.
  • Find a Sam’s Club near you.

Target

CVS/CVS MinuteClinic runs pharmacies and clinics in Target stores.

$5 gift cards are offered upon receiving a flu shot in select stores.

Walgreens/Duane Reade Pharmacies and Walgreens Healthcare Clinic

Walmart

  • Price: $39.88 for standard trivalent, $47.29 for quadrivalent, $69.78 for high-dose.
  • Vaccines Available at Walmart: Standard trivalent, high-dose, and quadrivalent vaccines.
  • Accepted insurance plans: Some forms of insurance accepted.
  • Immunization consent form: Consent forms for those in CaliforniaSouth Carolina, New Jersey, and all other states are available to fill out ahead of time.
  • Find a Walmart near you

The Cost of the Flu vs.The Cost of a Flu Shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that complications from the flu cause up to 710,000 hospitalizations and up to 56,000 deaths every year. If you have an underlying medical condition or are an older American, your risk of complications from the flu increases significantly.

Even if you manage to fight off the flu in a matter of days, doctor’s office charges, medicine, and missing work could set you back financially. Between doctor visits and purchasing medicine, a person with health insurance will shell out an average of $130. If you don’t have health insurance, you could be looking at $100 for medicine alone. In comparison, flu shots are widely available at little to no cost. For most Americans, it just makes good financial sense to get a flu shot.

Facts on Flu Shots You Need to Know

Before you run off to the nearest place that offers free or affordable flu shots, take the time to learn a little bit about them. A few facts you need to know:

  • You should get a flu shot once a year. Your immunity decreases over time and new vaccines are created every year to fight different strains of the flu.
  • With rare exceptions, anyone over six months of age can get a flu shot.
  • It takes about two weeks for a flu shot to become effective.
  • “The flu shot can give you the flu” is a myth
  • Mild and short-lived side effects may occur after you receive the flu shot. These may include redness and tenderness at the site of the shot, a runny nose with the nasal spray vaccine, a mild fever, and muscle aches.

Types of Flu Shots and How to Choose One

Several types of flu vaccines are developed each year to best protect patients of different age groups and with different health requirements from the flu virus. The administrator of the vaccine will determine which vaccine is best for you.

  • Standard trivalent vaccines protect against three types of flu viruses and are approved for various age groups.
    • High-dose vaccines, recommended for ages 65 and older, also protect against three types of flu but are much more potent than standard trivalent vaccines.
    • Recombinant vaccines are egg-free and available for ages 18 and older.
    • One trivalent formulation can be given via jet injector and is available for ages 18-64.
    • One trivalent formulation contains adjuvant, an ingredient which creates a stronger immune system, and is available for ages 65 and older.
  • Quadrivalent vaccines protect against four types of flu viruses and are approved for various age groups.
    • Intradermal vaccines, recommended for ages 18-64, are injected under the skin rather than the muscle
    • One quadrivalent vaccine is egg-free and available for patients ages 18 years and older.
    • Nasal mist vaccines are not recommended by the CDC for the 2016-2017 flu season.

In Summary

Whether you are insured or not, flu shots are widely available and incredibly affordable. From your county health department to your local retail pharmacy to your doctor’s office, there is a wide array of places to get a flu shot. If you have plans to get vaccinated, we hope this list helped you locate the cheapest and most convenient option for you.

An article you may want to bookmark should you or a loved one get the flu: The List of Pharmacies Open 24 Hours

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