The Cheapest Chain Pharmacies for 10 Immunizations
It's increasingly common (and easy) to get a seasonal flu shot when picking up a few items at the drugstore, but children and adults can also stay current on other immunizations without squeezing a doctor's appointment into a busy schedule. Chain pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens and big-box stores such as Costco and Walmart provide vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and some needed for international travel.
Of course, a doctor should always be consulted about particular vaccination needs, and age requirements should be confirmed before popping over to a pharmacy. Some states require prescriptions for children, and some chains (including Sam's Club) offer vaccinations only for adults. Here's what consumers pay out of pocket for a dose of 10 common vaccines at the big pharmacy chains.
The DTaP vaccine protects children under age 7 against three bacterial illnesses: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, also referred to as whooping cough. The Tdap is a booster for older kids and adults.
The cheapest: Costco, $47 for Tdap only; Walmart, $96 for DTaP ($60.50 for Tdap).
The rest: Walgreens, $64 for Tdap only; CVS, $100 for DTaP and $65 for Tdap; Rite Aid, $101 for DTaP and $55 (ages 19 and older) or $77 (ages 11 to 18) for Tdap.
The hepatitis A vaccine guards against this viral infection that can cause serious liver disease. Children age 12 to 24 months should be given the vaccine. Most people older than 2 years old need it only if they missed the shots then or to protect against certain risk factors -- working with kids, drug use, or some travel, for instance.
The cheapest: Costco and Walmart, $80; Walgreens, $66 for ages 7 to 18 ($114 for ages 19 and older).
The rest: Rite Aid, $89 for children and $129 for adults; CVS, $113 for children and $140 for adults.
Vaccinating for hepatitis B protects against another type of viral infection that attacks the liver, this one usually transmitted by bodily fluid. Babies should get it in their first two months, or from 6 to 18 months old; after that, it's needed only for adults with risk factors mainly related to sex and drug use.
The cheapest: Costco, $63; Walgreens, $60 for ages 7 to 18 ($90 for ages 19 and older).
The rest: Walmart, $69; CVS, $113 for children and $140 for adults; Rite Aid, $85 for children and $129 for adults.
The meningococcal vaccine protects against this bacterial illness that can cause life-threatening infection of the brain, spinal cord, or blood. Most children should get shots between 12 and 15 months, as the disease is more common among infants, adolescents, and young adults.
The cheapest: Costco, $122.
The rest: Walgreens, $134; Walmart, $138; CVS, $145; Rite Aid, $149 ($159 for a longer-lasting version).
This immunization protects against measles, mumps, and rubella and is generally given to children around age 1, with a second dose around age 4.
The cheapest: Walmart, $88
The rest: Walgreens, $100; CVS, $130; Rite Aid, $115 for children and $93 for adults.
The human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV can cause cervical cancer in women. The Gardasil vaccine is usually started around age 11.
The cheapest: Costco, $160.
The rest: Walmart, $188; Rite Aid, $209; CVS, $235; Walgreens, $235 for the first dose and $200 for the second and third doses.
A pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar 13) defends against pneumonia, which can cause infection of the lungs, blood, and brain.
The cheapest: Costco, $171.
The rest: Rite Aid and Walmart, $190; CVS, $206; Walgreens, $210.
Once considered a common childhood disease, chickenpox (varicella) is now part of a typical vaccination regimen, because it can cause severe skin infection, scars, pneumonia, brain damage, or death. The same virus can lead to shingles later in life.
The cheapest: Walmart, $136.
The rest: Walgreens, $150; Rite Aid, $169.
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash caused by the same virus as chickenpox. It can include anything from long-lasting lesions and pain to fever, blindness, deafness, and brain inflammation. Shingles is most prevalent in adults over age 50, as well as those with weakened immune systems, and the vaccine is generally recommended for adults over 60.
The cheapest: Costco, $214.
The rest: Walmart, $230; Walgreens, $235; Rite Aid, $259.