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Home » Health, Health Insurance

Where to Get Cheap or Free Flu Shots

Last updated by on August 9, 2016

The 2015-2016 flu season is here and sick days are about to start piling up. Should you get a flu shot? There are many good reasons to…

On average, approximately 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

And consider all of the medicine you will be buying if you do get the flu and lost income from work if you are not on salary or lost personal days that would have been your winter or summer vacation. Not to mention the potential cost of doctors visits or hospitalizations.

Oh yeah, there’s also that whole feeling like crap for days/weeks thing.

Despite all of that, only 47.1% of Americans got flu shots for the 2014-2015 flu season. That’s disappointingly low, considering the cost and widespread availability. It is a smart financial decision to get a flu shot, especially since the most you should ever have to pay is $30 or less. In most cases, flu shots are free!

Flu Shot Effectiveness Rate & Time Before it Takes Effect

cheapest flu shotsI have often wondered how long it takes for a flu shot to take effect. According to the CDC’s site, it generally takes about 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to protect you from catching the flu virus.

Flu shot effectiveness rate is widely disputed. There are many variables – age, severity during that year, new strains, unreported cases, and even effectiveness by manufacturer – that make it hard to nail down an effectiveness rate. I’ve seen it reported as anywhere from 40% to 90%. Regardless of effectiveness rate, there is no risk in getting the flu from a flu shot, so sign me up.

Getting Free Flu Shots

There are a number of places to get a free flu shot:

1. Your Employer

My employer offered free flu shots to all employees this year. They also are offering free flu shots to family members, for the first time. Check with your employer to see if they will be offering free flu shots this year. If they are not, offer up this feedback – the economic impact of the flu in the U.S. is $87.1 billion per year, on average. According to the Center for Prevention and Health Services, the flu indirectly costs your employer about $76.7 million, on average, in missed work and other indirect costs like healthcare.

2. Your Physician through your Health Insurance

Indirectly, through your employer or if you have a public health insurance exchange, your health insurance is required to pay for your flu shot without any co-sharing, due to Affordable Care Act coverage rules, when given by an in-network provider.

3. Your County Health Department

Many county health departments offer free flu shots to children and the elderly. However, increasingly they are offering this service to everyone. The only downside is the potential for long waiting lines. Check out your county or cities website for more information.

The Cheapest Flu Shot Locations

If you don’t have health insurance, or an employer or county health department that offers free flu shots, there are a number of retailers offering fairly cheap flu shots for the 2014-2015 flu season. If you do have health insurance that covers flu shots, it might even be more convenient than going to your doctor. Most have online scheduling.

Most are not offering their flu shot prices online, but luckily I have a phone and made a few calls. Here is the pricing that I found (insurance acceptance varies and usual co-pay applies):

  • Costco Flu Shots: Costs $14.99 for standard. $26.68 for quadrivalent. No nasal mist option. Costco is the cheapest on this list if you don’t have insurance.
  • CVS Flu shots: Costs $31.99 for standard. $36.99 for quadrivalent. No nasal mist option. You get a 20% off one-time coupon valid on non-sale merchandise and non-pharmacy purchases up to $50 (maximum value $10).
  • Walgreen’s Flu Shots: Costs $31.99 for standard. $39.99 for quadrivalent. $39.99 for nasal mist.
  • Rite Aid Flu Shots: Costs $31.99 for standard. $39.99 for quadrivalent. No nasal mist option.
  • Meijer Flu Shots: Costs $27.99 for standard. $32.99 for quadrivalent. No nasal mist option.
  • Wal Mart Flu Shots: Costs $25 for standard. $30 for quadrivalent. No nasal mist option.
  • Sam’s Club Flu Shots: Costs $20 for standard. $45 for quadrivalent. No nasal mist option.
  • Kroger Flu Shots: Costs $30 for standard. No quadrivalent or nasal mist options.
  • Target Flu Shots: Costs $24.99 for standard. $31.99 for quadrivalent. $31.99 for nasal mist.

Note that trivalent flu shots are typically the standard offered and protect against 3 different strains of influenza, while quadrivalent is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

If none of these stores have locations by you, check out the CDC’s flu shot locator website, which will provide a map of locations by you that offer flu shots.

Free or Cheap Flu Shot Discussion:

  • Are you getting a flu shot this year? Why or why not?
  • Did I miss any locations or ways to get a free flu shot? Share in the comments!

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Kololia says:

    What you need to know about vaccines. Don’t do it. Learn the truth about the poisons in them from the health experts, who refuse to take the shot themselves and why.
    Get educated and refuse to get vaccinated for better health.

    • Kaitlyn says:

      Yea, tell that to all the people that no longer get polio (hint: its everyone). I can’t believe people still believe this stuff.

    • Leo says:

      Oh yes, I’m going to take the advice of an unvetted YouTube video over massive EVIDENCE and years of EFFECTIVE DISEASE PREVENTION that support vaccines. We don’t get smallpox anymore because of vaccines. We don’t get all sorts of horrible, deadly diseases. The “toxins” buzzword is bantered around by people who don’t understand a thing about toxicology. Heck, table salt is poisonous in large quantities, but in small quantities, sodium is an essential nutrient involved in nerve and muscle function.

      Seriously, stop scaring people with this garbage. I’m a biologist with a strong background in immunology who has also worked in HAZMAT and safety. I’m also an EMT. I got every vaccine I could because I know they protect people. A baby just died of whooping cough the other day. Anti-vaccine is pro-death.

    • Melody says:

      I am a nurse and it is very important to get vaccinations. Vaccinations have protected us from Measles, mumps, rubella (german measles) for years as well as diptheria tetanus and whooping cough The problem is now many people are listening to people who scare you about vaccinations and those diseases are coming back Children are now dying of whooping cough and getting measles People can become sterile and not have children any longer due to mumps Vaccinations have stopped viruses in their tracks for years and now with the heard immunity being broken children will die and are dying

      The government is here to serve the American public and giving vaccinations for free helps the general good so that is why they give vaccinations. All vaccinations either given by the health department or doctors office are manufactured by the same companies so they are of the same quality no matter where you get them

      Protect yourself and children that God our mother and fathers did not believe this information or we would still be getting Polio and smallpox in this country People are still getting polio in India and killing or paralyzing children Please read only scientific document other do not have the research behind them

      One more thing to note the Lancet the journal that published the link of vaccinations with autism has only retracted one article in journals history it is the one linking vaccinations with autism because the research was poor and their is irrefutable research stating it was wrong

      Those of you that do not believe in vaccinations Please read reputable medical journals that will give you the right information


    • Artful Dodger says:

      You know all the Apollo astronauts who faked the moon landing never got shots either.

      WAKE UP SHEEPLE!1!11!1!!1!!!1!

    • Lance says:

      You are an insane maniac, and need to be locked up in a mental institution.

    • Tamara Cox says:

      Yes, because youtube is such a better educator and more well versed in this subject than people with a decade of education and countless years of experience. Ive been a Pediatric ICU nurse for 9 years. I get the flu shot and my family gets all their shots. Because Ive seen what happens when people dont. Take care of your family and dont fall into the hype because s celebrity told you to.

  • Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    Our local county health department gives out free flu shots to everyone. I, however, am very paranoid about any sort of shot the govt. is so eager to give me for free. – Haven’t had one in 5 years.

    • MrsMike says:

      I can’t believe people are suspicious about such a simple science that does so much good for all. (See above RE: polio vaccine). This type of attitude was prevalent in Iran when I was there. Should never be acceptable in areas where a couple of internet searches would provide clear direction from multiple reliable sources. It is a GLOBAL vaccine.

      • steiner says:

        Conspiracy theorists of America, unite! Or something like that…
        Maybe the County is offering free flu shots to lower costs at the emergency room later on. Sounds like, gasp, fiscal conservatism to me.

    • carol huffstetler says:

      Took my fourteen year old daughter to the Blount County health department in Maryville Tn 37801. We were charged Forty- Dollars

  • Warren says:

    Even people who don’t get the shots get some benefit. The people who do get the shots reduce the number of people who could potentially give the flue to people who don’t get the shots. It’s still nowhere near the protection afforded by actually getting the shots.

  • I suppose I’m lucky. I work for healthcare and get free flu shots simply because they are required for our jobs. I think flu shots in general are a good idea. There are a lot of myths out there about them (like the idea that they give you the flu) but they do good in general.

  • Cecilia says:

    Tks G.E. Miller thanks where get cheap flu shots need get mine every year I suffer allergies when I get flu shot I’m ok wth allergies tomorrow going to Costco.

  • Jenni says:

    Thanks! Very useful info. I was looking for a list of places that offer flu shots and their prices. Your article was perfect.

  • Denis says:

    Thank you for creating this list

  • Mrs. Waste Not says:

    Check your church! My husband got it for $25 there last year.

  • MaryC says:

    Do you need to be a Costco member to get the flu shot? When getting it from your Dr, do you have to schedule an appointment to get it? If so does your copay apply?

    I only ask because if that is the case that “free” flushot would be $30, so I’d be better off going to Costco

    • G.E. Miller says:

      No, you do not need to be a Costco member.

      • Lynn says:

        I got a flu shot at Costco last week for $14.99 and I am NOT a member. Just call the store you intend to visit and ask if you’re doubtful…I’m pretty sure they all will give the flu shot ($14.99) to anyone, whether they are a member or not. I’ve also purchased prescription RX there without a membership…they have the absolute lowest RX prices!

      • Ann says:

        I just checked with my local Costco, too, and they said no, I didn’t have to be a member; just need to ask for the pharmacy. Confirmed that it’s $14.99, too.

        Thanks so much for doing this list . . . streamlined the process of finding out where to go.

      • NTang says:

        Costco does not advertise this, but you do not have to be a member to use the pharmacy services. Call your local Costco to confirm.

      • Warren says:

        I don’t know if this is a national law or state law, but I’ve been told locally that a pharmacy is not allowed to require memberships. I don’t know if that’s just prescriptions or if you could buy over the counter items at the COSTCO pharmacy. Some of the biggest bargains at COSTCO are the Kirkland generic over the counter items. Many medical items have such large markup that discounting based on actual price can reduce the cost drastically.

  • R W says:

    I planned to get the flu shot when I took my kids last week, but when telling my boss she said we should offer it at work (I do HR). I made arrangements for everything, only to find out that about 65% of the staff refuse to even consider the flu shot. You would think I was asking them to do some recreational drugs the way they reacted. “Oh I don’t do that,” “That’s not for me,” etc. For the most part I wouldn’t care about this reaction, but the funny thing is that it seems the most unhealthy people are the ones refusing the shot. Guess we’ll see how many sick days they take this year…

  • Edgar @ Degrees and Debt says:

    Great info. Personally, I dont believe in the flu shot. I think its a myth haha. I have seen people get it and get sick, not get it and get sick, get it and be very sick or not get it and be slightly sick. I see no pattern or result that is “sure fire” with this so I avoid flu shots all together and just try to be healthy, wash my hands and avoid the sick people haha

  • Mak says:

    Walmart in NJ by e is $28 or $29 not $25

  • Sidney says:

    I am in medical school now. The reason the flu vaccine is not 100% protective is because there are literally 1000’s of different strains out there that are constantly evolving. The health authorities make vaccines each season for the strains most likely to infect the particular region in question. This means that if you get a flu shot in the United States that won’t necessarily prevent you from getting a strain of flu that’s going around in Asia.

    It is a very good idea to get preventative vaccines. The vaccines work “better” if more people get them because of the concept of herd immunity, i.e., less people will have a chance of catching a strain and spreading it.

    All the fear about vaccines causing autism in children is 100% rubbish with no proof. Vaccines are one of the greatest inventions of modern medicine and are not to be feared.

    • elliot says:

      Sidney while I’m relying to last years bblog I couldn’t agree more. I am a 66 Ur old male and started taking flu shots beginning at age 65 at the VA Medical center near my home. I have not had any adverse effects and in general good health and no Rx. Its a shame as you put it that in our country that has some of the best medical care and vaccines that the herd mentality prevails. Good luck in your studies

  • joyce says:

    Thanks for this hugely helpful list! FYI just checked with my local Walmart (in Norwalk, Connecticut) and the fee is $28.

  • Diana says:

    Just got my flu shot at CostCo for $14.99. Had to wait a while but it was worth it. I have never had any side effects either.

  • Andrea says:

    I know many people who were laid off a long time ago & finding a job has been futile. Don’t let them fool you that the economy is much better, ’cause it is NOT!!!! There are millions who are still hunting for a job! These people need to be given free flu shots, & also, those making low wages & have no insurance! I know a person with 2 little kids who can’t afford these shots at any so-called bargain. the baby has gotten the shot, but Mom & the 4 year old have not! I have searched & searched my area in Northern Indiana & there is no free or very low cost flu shots. We have no Costco, but one is coming! We have a Sam’s Club & you don’t have to be a member to get any vaccines or have your prescriptions filled. Their prices are the same as Walmart! And if you think Walmart is cheap….think again. I live on a limited income & have no prescription coverage, so, I have to call around & find the cheapest place. Believe me, Walmart has some meds that are ridiculously high! Some organizations, etc. should step up to the plate & offer free or low cost flu shots to these people or the media needs to stop scaring these people!

  • Kristen says:

    Hi, I read above the Walmart is cutting down on the # of locations offering flu shots. I was wondering what the rationale was for that (i.e. not going well, risk of side effects, etc.) and if there was a link for the source that mentions this.

  • Mike says:

    Lots of great advice. I am lucky that the community I live in has a free flu shot event every year. Our family of 5 is in and out in about 10 minutes and there is no charge. This site also lists free flu shot events all over the country:

  • Amy K says:

    I used to volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps and we had flu clinics each fall. Free to the public and great emergency preparedness drills for us. I don’t know if all units do this.

  • Cathy says:

    Get the flu shot!!!!!! I didn’t last year, and got the flu ended up in the hospital and flatlined, and alsmost died. Never really recovered….. Affected my heart and lungs.

    • Vesta says:

      My Grandfather died at the age of 27 of the Spanish Influenza that spread through St.Louis in 1918 after the boys came back from WWI; leaving my 18 month old Mom and Grandmother who survived the flu destitute! We are such a global community now-a-days that not taking a free flu shot when offered seems incredibly ridiculous!!

  • Leo says:

    Clinica Latina in Milwaukee, Wisconsin offers flu shots at $15 for people without health insurance.

  • Nancy says:

    I work for a hospital where it is REQUIRED to get a flu shot every year. I am actually a contract employee and do not work directly for the hospital, but it is still required. It has always been free to all employees, including contractors. Now, this year, they will no longer cover the shot for the contract workers. BUT… It is still required!! That is B.S.!

  • Ajay says:

    I’m glad that for every ridiculous and completely uneducated reason for not getting a flu shot that’s been posted, there are still smart, proactive, and responsible Americans who know better. Although the crazed anti-vaxers don’t realize it, the rest of us are picking up their slack and helping to protect them through herd immunity while they stupidly risk not only their own lives, but also their family, and everybody else around them.

  • DL says:

    I went to Sam’s today for the flu shot. Being older than 65 requires a stronger dose and the cost is $48 dollars. No where do they mention that of course. I decided to go to my regular physician with a 15 dollar co-pay and the shot is covered.

  • Jack says:

    Here in the UK a lot of people get the flu jab (as we call it) for free on the NHS – everyone over 65 and if you have certain chronic conditions or are under 17. Everyone else has to pay for it. I got mine today at a retailer called Asda which is owned by Walmart. It cost £7 which is around $10. Cheaper than a prescription which is now £8.05.

  • ida says:

    I got 2 years in a raw bad flu. I take flu shots every year now. I never get anything, not even a cough. Thanks for the info. I am a believer in flu shots.

  • HC says:

    This info. is not correct. Sams is $20 for the reg. shot and $30 for the quad shot.
    Walgreens is $34.99 and $39.99 for quad.

  • Tracy says:

    It would be helpful to inform readers of the type of flu shot given along with the prices listed. Flu vaccine is available as a trivalent vaccine, meaning it protects against 3 strains of flu virus, and flu vaccine is available as a quadrivalent, meaning it protects against 4 strains of flu. The lower prices listed in your story are for trivalent vaccine. Personally, if I’m going to get a shot in the arm, I’d prefer to get a shot that will provide as much protection as possible- the quadrivalent, which will cost a bit more than the trivalent. Also there is a vaccine for those over 65 called fluzone high dose. Studies show that this vaccine provides better protection for older adults. Contact your local Visiting Nurse Association to find a flu shot clinic in your area. I’d rather get a shot from a NURSE than a pharmacist or med assistant!!

  • mary says:

    My husband and myself have been getting our flu shots free at the boo on the flu event at Honor Hights Park in Muskogee Oklahoma. I was needing to know if they are having this event this year 2015?

  • RK says:


    Thanks for the price update .. That was a huge help
    Thanks again

    PS : sam clubs is going you the standard dose for $15 but the rest is just bang on and a real time saver 🙂


  • Liz says:

    As of 10/12/15 Kriger has the quad flu vaccine for $40 (Richmond VA area).

  • Nate says:

    RE: Article itself

    Kroger Pharmacies (at least in Ohio) are offering the nasal mist for $40 (cost w/o ins.)

  • Anita says:

    My insurance, United Health Care, will only cover the standard flu shot at 100% with no cost sharing. They will not cover the quadrivalent flu vaccine. How people are meant to know this when they go to a clinic or Target, in my case, I don’t know.

    I called to check what specific flu shot was covered using the medical codes, because UHC is really good at NOT paying claims if they can help it.

  • Tess says:

    First of all, to the author of the article, thank you for a fantastic resource of very valuable information to those of us who will be immunized. Great job!!

    Secondly, if you are in the very small group of people who should not be immunized due to allergens, this comment does not apply.

    However, if you just generally aren’t interested in going to the trouble of getting a flu shot, please think outside of yourself for a moment and consider that if you do protect yourself with a flu shot that will still, in the off chance that you still catch the flu; lessen the severity and time that you suffer from it; you are also protecting those around you from getting it! Yay you!

    Consider for a moment people that you don’t know but still have a lot of access to: people at work, people on the bus or train that you take to work, etc., all of the innocent “bystanders” that you still have contact with on a daily basis: a lot of them may have serious lung diseases like COPD or Asthma for example. And by not immunizing yourself you could be putting those people with serious compromised lung problems at a higher risk through your lack of action. (I have asthma and as I’ve gotten older have been getting annual flu shots, and of course try to protect myself in other ways from contracting anything from others, but the risk is still there and trust me, if I were to contract the flu virus it’s affects on me would be very near dangerous.

    So if you don’t do it for yourself, maybe consider doing it to help those people in hi risk situations that you don’t know about, with whom you come in contact every day.

    (Thank you – from all of us!)
    Keep healthy and happy!

  • Rita says:

    It is true Costco allows anyone to use their pharmacy, this was confirmed today on CBS Morning Show 12/1/15, they also said that Costco has some of the cheapest prescription costs around. We got the quad flu no charge because we have Medicare. Can also get pneumonia vaccine and the Prevnar 13 pneumonia vaccine or shingles shots there. No cost to Medicare card holders.
    I did get a surprise today when I looked at my Medicare Summary Notice, Costco’s signs say $14.99 but they charged Medicare $41.66 and Medicare paid $40.77!! That’s $25.78 more then they charge everyone who comes in!! I called Medicare and filed a Fraud report. See if you have the same experience and lets stop them. I would love to know what you find on your billing.

    • senseisam says:

      That is not fraud, clinics and pharmacies often charge a reduced rate for patients paying cash and not using insurance. It’s easier for them than billing insurance and dealing with Medicare.

  • Mindraker says:

    I travel by plane, and make sure I’m vaccinated before I get near an airport. People short on sleep, cramped in airports and airplanes, not washing their hands… from god-knows-where… TSA patting you down, etc.

    Yeah. Get vaccinated before you travel.


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