Flu shot
CDC

Where to Get Cheap Flu Shots: Walmart vs. CVS vs. Costco and More

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Flu shot
CDC

Give It a Shot

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 6 months get a flu shot, and with the coronavirus pandemic still in the mix, it's more important than ever to prepare for flu season.


Under the Affordable Care Act, all marketplace insurance plans must cover the cost of the vaccine — although some set limitations on where free flu shots are administered. Free flu shots are also available under Medicare and many other health plans. But for families without health insurance, flu shots from a doctor's office can be costly, and cheaper trivalent vaccines have all but disappeared in favor of quadrivalent vaccines, which protect against four strains of influenza instead of three.


To find the cheapest place to get a flu shot, Cheapism checked vaccine prices at some 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. Note that prices, services, and availability may vary by location.

Kroger
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Kroger: $90

Both quadrivalent flu shots and the high-dose vaccine that is recommended for adults 65 and older are available at Kroger pharmacies this year, though at a much higher price than other pharmacies on our list. The quadrivalent flu shot is $90, while the high-dose shot is $128. One sliver of good news: You'll receive a coupon for $5 off your next grocery purchase if you get your flu shot by Nov. 5.


Related: 30 Things to Know About Cold and Flu Season

Walmart
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Walmart: $36

Walmart pharmacies are offering a quadrivalent vaccine for $36 this year, while a high-dose flu shot is available for just over $80. With a discount card, however, those costs dip to around $27 and $79, respectively.

Rite Aid Pharmacy
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Rite Aid: $50

A quadrivalent flu vaccine at Rite Aid is competitively priced at $50. But to get vaccinated with a high-dose flu shot, the cost is $90 out of pocket, which is higher than many other retailers.

Walgreens
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CVS
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CVS/Target: $50

CVS pharmacies, including those in Target stores, offer quadrivalent flu shots for about $50. Immunization with a high-dose flu shot for seniors costs $95. However, according to pharmacists we spoke with, you can get a flu shot for less at most locations by asking for a discount card, which lowers the price to about $30 to $35 for the quadrivalent vaccine and $50 for the high-dose vaccine. Plus, if you schedule your appointment online, you can get a $5-off-$20 coupon after your vaccination.


Related: America's Healthiest States for Seniors, Ranked

Sam’s Club | Good, But Not Great
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Safeway
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Safeway: $30

With a discount card, Safeway offers quadrivalent flu shots for about $30. The chain is advertising a coupon for 10% off your next grocery purchase up to $200 with any immunization, which could make this the best deal for Safeway shoppers who need to stock up. A high-dose shot for seniors can cost in the $70-to-$100 range, depending on location and availability of the discount card, according to pharmacists we spoke with.


Related: 130+ Senior Discounts on Products and Services (Some Starting at Age 50!)

Meijer
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Meijer: $25

The Meijer chain offers quadrivalent flu shots for $25 with a coupon card. Immunization with the high-dose vaccine costs $68 at Meijer stores, which are found in the Midwest.

Costco
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Costco: $20

As it has in years past, Costco offers one of the cheapest seasonal flu shots. Members and non-members alike pay $20 out of pocket for a quadrivalent vaccine — half the price of most other places. Seniors in need of the high-dose flu vaccine should also head to Costco for the lowest price by far: just under $47.


Related: Health Products and Services That Cost Less at Costco

Where to Get a Cheap Flu Shot
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Some Employers: Free

Another option (and the cheapest) is to get a free flu shot through an employer. To help keep employees from getting sick, many companies organize seasonal-flu-shot days for employees and their family members, and the vaccine is often free. Check before heading to a pharmacy to get your yearly dose this season.


There are also other ways to save money. Many free clinics, local health departments, and other organizations offer low-cost or free flu shots. Military personnel can call their local Veterans Affairs clinic, and many colleges offer free shots to their students.