Where to Get a Cheap Flu Shot in 2016
Peak time for seasonal flu in the United States generally falls in January or February, but activity can erupt as early as October. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of six months get a dose of the influenza vaccine. Under the Affordable Care Act, all marketplace plans must cover the cost -- so long as the provider is in network. Flu shots are also free under Medicare and many other plans. For families without coverage, flu shots from a doctor's office can be costly. In a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll for CityMD, more than half of millennials said they don't plan to get a flu shot, and a quarter cited cost as the reason. To find the cheapest place to get the vaccine, Cheapism checked prices at six of the country's largest pharmacy chains, as well as Costco and Sam's Club, which are known for low prices and allow non-members to use their pharmacies.
Related: 10 Simple Ways to Fend Off Colds and Flu
CVS pharmacies, including those in Target stores, are so far offering only quadrivalent flu shots, which are more expensive than standard flu shots but protect against four strains of influenza (two A strains and two B strains). The $39.99 price for the four-component vaccine is second-cheapest among the pharmacies surveyed.
Walgreens charges $59.99 for a quadrivalent flu shot but also carries a cheaper trivalent flu vaccine, the standard or traditional option. Trivalent flu shots protect against three strains of the flu virus (two A strains, H1N1 and H3N2, and one B strain) and cost $31.99 at Walgreens.
Rite Aid also offers both flu shot options this year, at prices that mirror those of its competitors: $31.99 for a standard vaccine and $39.99 for a quadrivalent vaccine.
Both injections are available at Kroger pharmacies. At $30, a trivalent flu shot is slightly cheaper at the grocery store than the pharmacy chains. But Kroger essentially ties Walgreens with the highest price for a quadrivalent flu shot: $60.
Walmart pharmacies are offering both types of flu vaccine this year. The trivalent vaccine costs $27 out of pocket and the quadrivalent vaccine costs $54.
Sam's Club is the cheapest place to get both types of flu vaccine. A trivalent flu shot costs $15 while the broader protection of the quadrivalent flu shot costs $30.
Only the trivalent flu shot is currently available at Costco pharmacies. As at Sam's Club, it costs about $15 for members and non-members alike.
Related: 17 Health Products and Services That Cost Less at Costco
Another option is to get a flu shot through an employer. Many companies organize flu-shot days for employees and their families, and the cost is often free. Inquire before heading to a pharmacy to get your yearly dose.