Where to Get Cheap or Free Flu Shots

The 2018 flu season is here and it’s a bad one. 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. The CDC posted estimates of seasonal flu deaths from recent flu seasons in the United States, with an estimated low of 12,000 (2011-2012) to an estimated high of 56,000 (2012-2013).

If you get the flu, stay home. And if you’re in business – encourage your employees to take sick days to not expose others. It’s estimated that this year’s flu season will result in $15.4 billion in lost productivity for businesses.

If you want to save money, getting a flu shot is the smart strategy. 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 46.8% of Americans got flu shots for the 2016-2017 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. And 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 flu.gov 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. It is recommended everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot.

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 employers 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 now required to pay for your flu shot without any co-payment due to Affordable Care Act coverage rules (when given by an in-network provider). If you are over age 65, Medicare Part B covers the cost of flu shots as well.

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 2017-2018 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):

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. The CDC found that the nasal mist option was not effective compared to the shot, so it is no longer being sold on the market.

If none of these stores have locations by you, check out the CDC’s Flu.gov flu shot vaccine 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!

Related Posts:


  1. Kololia
    • Kaitlyn
      • Becky
        • Stephen
          • Gayle
          • Micha Elyi
          • kim
          • Normandie Kent
    • Leo
      • Solly
      • Tiffani
      • jeremy
      • kat
        • NANCY B
      • LMA
    • Melody
      • Stephen
    • Artful Dodger
    • Lance
      • John D.
    • Tamara Cox
    • Teresa Ethington
      • Taylor
      • Lee Reid
    • Mary
    • drxym
    • Kim
    • Nina Franco
    • wstw
    • Umi
    • NANCY B
    • Big John
  2. Veronica @ Pelican on Money
    • MrsMike
      • steiner
    • carol huffstetler
    • drxym
      • Ray
        • Michelle Goldberg
        • Big daddy
    • NANCY B
  3. Warren
  4. Cin in SC
    • NANCY B
  5. Cecilia
  6. Jenni
  7. Denis
  8. Mrs. Waste Not
  9. MaryC
      • Lynn
        • NANCY B
      • Ann
      • NTang
      • Warren
  10. R W
    • me
  11. Edgar @ Degrees and Debt
    • Warren
    • Betkai
    • NANCY B
  12. Mak
  13. Sidney
    • elliot
      • G Smiht
  14. joyce
  15. Diana
  16. Andrea
    • Tru
      • bearmon2010
    • bearmon2010
    • Kaylynn
    • steve
  17. Kristen
  18. Amy K
  19. Cathy
    • Vesta
      • Kevin
  20. Leo
  21. Nancy
  22. Ajay
  23. DL
    • Warren
      • Lee Reid
  24. Jack
  25. ida
  26. HC
    • Lance
    • J Stevens
  27. Tracy
  28. mary
  29. RK
  30. Liz
  31. Nate
  32. Anita
  33. Tess
  34. Rita
    • senseisam
  35. Mindraker
  36. Kevin
  37. Ron Ablang
  38. Match
  39. Asaens
  40. Bonnie
  41. Matt
  42. ES
  43. Felicia Poteet
  44. Diane
  45. Frank
  46. torie
  47. Ron Ablang
  48. Kas

Leave a Reply

Join 10,000+ wealth builders. Get posts emailed to you, for free.

Thank you for subscribing!

Oops... Please try again.