Free and Low-Cost Flu Shots 2011

September 23, 2011


Last season, an estimated 130.9 million people, or 43 percent of the U.S. population, got a flu shot.

“Vaccination is the single most effective way to protect yourself, your family and your community against influenza,” said Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director. “For most people, the flu makes them sick for a few days but for others, especially children, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions, it can be life threatening.”

For the 2011-2012 flu season, doctors’ offices, public health clinics, pharmacies and retail stores, among others, are equipped with more than 85 million doses of influenza vaccine. Of particular note is that all 50 states now allow pharmacists to administer influenza vaccine.

You don’t have to go broke to protect yourself from the flu. Here are some free and low-cost ways to get your flu shot this year:

  • Americans who have Medicare Part B may be able to get their flu shot for no cost.
  • If you have an underlying health condition, your flu shot could be co-pay free at your doctor’s office. For example, I have asthma. When I go to the doctor for just a flu shot, it is free. They don’t charge me a co-pay. Check with your insurance carrier to find out if this is true for you.
  • Your state or county health department may be offering free flu shot clinics. (This was how I got my free flu shot during the H1N1 predicted pandemic a few years ago.) For example, in the next week alone, you can get free flu shots in the following locations: California, Indiana (children only), Tennessee, and Texas (veterans only), to name a few.
  • See if your employer might be offering employees free flu shots, such as how Johns Hopkins University will be starting next week. (Check with your human resources department or wellness coordinator, if your company employs one.)
  • A flu shot at the supermarket or local pharmacy may be cheaper than going to the doctor. For example, a flu shot at the Giant Supermarket store near me is $30. If your co-pay at the doctor is $50, as it is for some of my friends, then clearly this is a better deal. CVS is charging $29.99 for a flu shot, and if your insurance doesn’t cover that cost, CVS will give you a free $5 gift card as a thank you for choosing CVS for your flu shot. RiteAid, which charges $27.99 for a flu shot, will also reward you for getting your flu shot at RiteAid. On a first come, first-served basis, you can get a coupon book worth $100 in savings.
  • Look for community events where you can find free flu shots. Families Fighting Flu, Visiting Nurse Associations of America, and The Clorox Company have teamed up for “Say ‘Boo!’ to the Flu” to offer flu events at community centers and schools around the country. These flu clinics take place throughout October, and participants can come away with some Clorox freebies, such as Say “Boo!” to the Flu magnets, Say “Boo!” to the Flu stickers, and Clorox Disinfecting Wipes To-Go Packs.

If I come across additional information about free and low-cost flu shots for 2011, I’ll write an updated post.

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7 Responses to Free and Low-Cost Flu Shots 2011

  1. LSK on October 10, 2011 at 9:43 am

    When I looked at the Say Boo to the Flu website and the VNAA website (link just after the Boo to the Flu link), there were no events or clinics listed. Have they not been scheduled yet?

    • Leah Ingram on October 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Let me go double check that link….OK, you need to click on the link about “flu clinics take place throughout October” and then you need to plug in your zip code in the box that shows up at the bottom of that page. It’s possible that there aren’t any clinics happening near you. When I plugged in my zip code, the nearest clinic was 2 states away! :-( Hopefully, though, that’s the exception to the rule and not the norm. Let me know if this helps!

  2. free2befrugal on October 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I should add, we don’t go the pediatrician because he double dips copays for flu shot.

    $20 for the office visit and another $20 for the flu shot–what a ripoff!

    • Leah Ingram on October 9, 2011 at 6:11 pm

      Wow, that’s awful. So a store flu shot in some instances would definitely make the most sense financially for you!

  3. free2befrugal on October 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Good to know! We used to take the kiddo to Walgreens for his flu shot (our county offers the free ones for adults only) but they raised the price to $31.99 this year! They said most insurances cover it, which isn’t the case for us. It’s nice to see other stores are offering incentives, at least.

  4. Jeanette on October 1, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I was looking up places to get free flu shots when I came upon this article, which mentions flu shots at your doctor’s office. Then I realized that I have an appointment in October for my physical, so I guess I will get my shot there. So now I will schedule all my annual check-ups in October and then I can get my flu shot for free that way………just a thought, if others wanted to get a free shot, then just schedule your annual check up around October or even September and get your shot then.

    • Leah Ingram on October 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      Great idea!

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