Flu shot

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

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Flu shot

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, but experts say it's even more important this year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the country.

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. Flu shots are also free under Medicare and many other health plans. 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 vaccination 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.

Check out our full comparison of the biggest chain pharmacies, including Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and more, to compare prices on other vaccines, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and personal care items.

Related: 30 Things to Know About Cold and Flu Season

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Walgreens: $40.99

To get vaccinated at Walgreens, it costs about $41 for a quadrivalent flu shot, about $1 more than major competitors CVS and Rite Aid. The high-dose flu shot for seniors, with four times more antigen than standard-dose flu vaccines, is $79.

Related: How to Keep Kids From Getting Sick at School

Rite Aid Pharmacy

Rite Aid: $39.99

A quadrivalent flu vaccine at Rite Aid is competitively priced at about $40. But to get vaccinated with a high-dose flu shot, the cost is $79 out of pocket — the second-highest price in our survey this season.

Related: 10 Tips for Saving Money on Prescriptions

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Sam’s Club | Good, But Not Great
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Meijer: $35

Meijer chain offers quadrivalent flu shots for $35, slightly less than the going rate of about $40 elsewhere this season. Immunization with the high-dose vaccine costs $70 at Meijer stores, which are found in the Midwest.

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Costco: $19.99

As it has in years past, Costco undercuts the rest with by far the cheapest seasonal flu shot. Members and non-members alike pay about $20 out of pocket for a quadrivalent vaccine — half the price of most other places. Seniors in need of high-dose flu vaccinations should also head to Costco for the lowest price by far: just under $47 for non-members, and $40 for members.

Related: Health Products and Services That Cost Less at Costco

Where to Get a Cheap Flu Shot

Some Employers: Free

Another option (and the cheapest) is to get a 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 a dose of the vaccination 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 also offer free or low-cost shots. Military personnel can call their local VA clinic, and many colleges offer free shots to their students.

Related: DIY Remedies for Cold and Flu Season