Flu season in the United States starts in October but generally peaks in January or February. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 get influenza vaccinations.
Vaccination should ideally be done by the end of October but can be taken any time during the flu season. It typically takes two weeks for the vaccine to protect you from the flu.
Only about 45% of the US population gets a flu vaccine. Getting the flu is not fun. Flu is a respiratory illness that is different from a cold and comes along with cough, sore throat, fever, fatigue, and body pain. If you get the flu, you have to take sick days and pay for doctor visits or hospitalizations. You should consider getting a flu shot since it is cheap and can even be free.
The quadrivalent vaccine protects you against four different flu strain viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. This is the flu that is widely available this year.
Flu shots can vary from $0 (free) to $80 depending on where you get the shot and the type of vaccine. If you have insurance, flu shots are free at most pharmacies. You can also get them at your doctor’s office but you may need to pay for the visit. Be sure to call ahead to confirm that they have the flu shot and confirm the cost to avoid surprises.
Just before the flu season, keep an eye for emails and announcements about free flu shots. These announcements may come from your employer, college administrator or local county offices.
If you don’t have insurance, here are options for you to get a free or cheap flu shot
Free Flu Shots
Employers – Many employers flu shot days for friends or family. These are generally free. Make use of them if your employer offers this benefit
Colleges – Many colleges offer free flu shots to their students and faculty
Country Health Departments offer free flu shots during the flu season
VA Healthcare facility – Military veterans enrolled in health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can get free flu shots
Cheap Flu Shots
Costco is one of the cheapest places to get a flu vaccine. You do not need to be a member to use the pharmacy or get vaccinated.
Target usually gives you “$5 off $25 coupon” which will bring down the cost of your flu shot to $35. Target Pharmacies are run by CVS.
Walmart – Cost: $25, recommended minimum age is 8
Walgreens – Cost: $40
CVS – Cost: $40
Kroger – Cost:$40
Safeway – Cost: $45
For many years, I did not get a flu shot. But a few years ago, I got a bad flu and had to take a week off work. Now I take a flu shot every year. My employer has Flushot days on-site, so it is very convenient.
Do you plan to take a flu shot this year? Why or Why not?