These Are the Stores Where You Can Get a Free Flu Shot This Year

Flu season is here, and there’s still time to protect yourself against the disease by getting a flu shot. The CDC urges all Americans to get a flu vaccine, which can keep you from getting sick, and may even save your life. (About 80,000 Americans died of the flu during the last flu season.) Yet many people ignore doctors’ warnings and skip the shot. In the 2016-17 flu season, only 43% of adults got vaccinated.

Why don’t people get a flu shot

Getting a flu shot

A woman receives a flu shot at a Walgreens pharmacy. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Some people might skip their flu shot because of unfounded fears about vaccine safety. Others have a sense of invincibility, worry about the cost, or are simply lazy. But getting a flu shot has never been easier – and you don’t even have to go to your doctor’s office. Many retail clinics and pharmacies offer cheap or free flu shots — if you have insurance.

Where to get a free flu shot

It used to be that you had to head to your doctor’s office to get a flu shot. But no more. Now, many pharmacies and in-store clinics offer flu shots as well, which makes getting the shot very convenient. It’s even increasing vaccination rates.

If you have insurance, the flu shot should be free. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers are required to cover the cost. Many pharmacies and stores also offer incentives like coupons and gift cards to encourage you to get your flu shot there.

Here are some of the stores offering free flu shots in 2018 if you have insurance:

  • Albertsons
  • Costco
  • CVS: You can get a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase if you get your shot at CVS.
  • Kroger
  • Publix: Get a $10 gift card if you’re vaccinated at Publix.
  • Rite Aid
  • Target: Target is giving away a $5 coupon if you get the flu shot there. (CVS operates all Target pharmacies.)
  • Sam’s Club
  • Walgreens: You’ll receive a $10 reward on your next purchase of $30 or more.
  • Walmart

Where to get a flu shot if you don’t have insurance

Flu Shot

A person receives a flu vaccine at a drive-thru flu shot clinic. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you’re uninsured, you can still get a flu shot, though you might have to pay for it. Costs vary, so it pays to shop around.

Costco has one of the cheapest flu shots around, at $19.99. You’ll need to be a Costco member, though, unless you live in a state where Costco is required by law to open its pharmacy to non-members.

At CVS, you’ll pay $50 for the seasonal flu vaccine if you’re uninsured. At Walgreens, the cost is $40.99. Walmart Care Clinics charge $39.84. You can use VaccineFinder.org to locate a flu shot location near you.

If you can’t afford to pay for a flu shot out of pocket, you can still get vaccinated. Your employer might offer free flu shots to workers. Many schools offer free flu shots to all students, and local health departments and health care providers often set up free flu shot clinics.

The cost of getting the flu

Not getting a shot could cost you. Aside from the chance of hospitalization and death, there’s a very real risk to your finances. Americans spend more than $10 billion every year fighting the flu. A prescription for the flu-fighting medicine Tamiflu could cost up to $200 without insurance.

Time off work to recuperate costs another $16 billion in lost wages. Someone who takes four days off of work to recover from the flu loses an average of $855.68 in wages, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

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