One of my best friends just spent five days achy and feverish. Every time I would call or text to check in, she reminded me: get your flu shot! With flu season embarking upon us, you may be looking for somewhere to get free or cheap flu shots to keep yourself and your family protected.
WebMD reports it’s best to get your flu shot in September or October, because it takes about two weeks for the immunity to be most effective. Remember to call ahead to confirm price and hours, check if your insurance is taken, or to see if an appointment is needed, as well as to make sure the vaccine is in stock. Also, even if you miss the prime fall window but still want a shot, getting one later in the winter will still protect you through the remainder of the season, which lasts until spring.
Here are the best flu shot deals for 2013:
– Your employer (possibly free): Check with HR at your company to see if they will be offering the flu shot to employees this year. Many agencies whose employees work frequently with the public find that they save money overall (by reducing sick days) by bringing in health care personnel to inoculate their workers at no cost to the employee.
– Through your insurance (possibly free): The Affordable Care Act stipulates that all insurance plans created after March 23, 2010 , with no co-pay, even if you haven’t met your deductible. However, if your plan was created prior to this date, it may have been “grandfathered in” and the cost of the vaccine may be subject to co-pay or deductible. Call your insurance provider to find out. If covered, you could get the shot from your doctor or from any pharmacy (including many listed below) that will bill your insurance provider. Medicare Part B patients should be able to get a free flu shot.
– Local public health department (free or prices vary): Check your local public health department to see if they are offering flu shots at public health centers. For example, while Seattle is only offering the vaccine to current public health center patients, Los Angeles is providing the shot at no cost at health centers and community immunization events. Beware, there may be long lines and crowds, as well as narrow hours, to use this option.
– Drugstore or supermarket pharmacy: Remember you may “save” in time and travel by going to your corner drugstore, as well as many are now offering incentives with a paid flu shot. This online from insurance clearninghouse Lifesource Direct may work at select retailers (online anecdotes report success, even if you are not affiliated with that insurance) if you would otherwise be paying cash.
- Costco: Per their website, $14.99, but some other online sources report $16.99. The best deal either way. Also, Costco’s online pharmacy finder indicated that my local Costco did not have the vaccine, but when I called, they do. Call ahead to confirm.
- Wal-Mart: $25, though my local Wal-Mart stated they are not offering shots this year; call ahead to confirm.
- Sam’s Club: price varies with location but is competitive; you do not have to be a member to receive a flu shot.
- Target: $28, and if you are a member of their pharmacy rewards program, the flu shot and other immunizations count toward the five prescriptions needed to get a 5% off shopping reward.
- Rite-Aid: $30, receive 25 wellness points (not available in NY or NJ).
- Safeway/Vons/Dominick’s: $30, and you receive a 10% off grocery coupon.
- Walgreen’s: $32, receive a 20% off non-pharmacy purchase coupon.
- CVS: $32, receive a coupon for 20% off regular-priced merchandise up to $100 (except AR, NY, or NJ)
– “Say Boo! to the Flu!”: Sponsored by Clorox, the Visiting Nurses of America are holding flu clinics in select cities in Northern California, the Midwest, and the Northeast. Cost is free or discounted, varies by location. They encourage kids to come out in Halloween costumes and try to make it a non-scary event for kids. Find a clinic near you here.
Want to know more about the flu shot? and its side effects at WebMD or talk to your doctor with questions or concerns.
Also, beware if you are looking to get a vaccination for a child that some pharmacies will not vaccinate under age 12. The flu shot is approved and recommended for children over the age of 6 months but you may need to get it directly from your child’s pediatrician and your child (or you, if you are pregnant) may require a special mercury-free version.
Have you gotten your flu shot this year?
If you know of another flu shot deal, let us know in the comments!