As the temperatures start dropping and the leaves start falling, many people are looking forward to pumpkin spice, Halloween and the winter holidays. But along with colder weather comes something much less fun: winter illness. Yep, flu season is, once again, upon us.
Getting the flu vaccine is important to protect yourself from the flu while lessening the likelihood of severe illness if you do catch it.
The good news: Getting vaccinated doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s where to get a flu shot for cheap or free — plus where you could actually snag flu shot deals after getting your vaccine.
Where to Get Cheap or Free Flu Shots
The annual flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu and reduce the severity if you do contract it.
The CDC recommends flu shots annually for everyone 6 months and older.
Although September and October are the ideal times to get vaccinated, the CDC notes that you can get a vaccine so long as the flu virus is circulating — flu season doesn’t officially end until around April or May.
If you have health insurance, you’ll likely be able to get a free flu shot. But even if you don’t have insurance, you can still find affordable — and sometimes free — options.
Ready to protect yourself from the influenza virus? Here’s where to go for your shot.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all marketplace insurance plans must cover the cost of the vaccine. But check your plan for details, as some set limitations on where you can get the shot for free.
1. Local Retailers, Grocery Stores and Pharmacies
Many places you already shop offer free flu shots, and some pharmacies and stores will even throw in a special deal or coupon to save money on a future purchase.
Some providers may have limited supplies of the flu vaccine, so check with your location before you go.
Just by showing your insurance card, you can get a free shot. If you don’t have insurance, you can typically get the shot for less than $50 at the following businesses:
If you shop regularly at Albertsons, you can get your flu shot during your next grocery visit. Appointments are available, but walk-ins are welcome as well. Plus, you’ll earn 10% off groceries, up to a $20 value, for getting the vaccine at Albertsons.
You don’t need to be a member of the warehouse club to use a Costco pharmacy. Walk-ins are welcome, or click here to book an appointment online.
Get your flu shot at CVS pharmacy or its Minute Clinic. Through Dec. 31, CVS is offering a $5 coupon off any shopping trip of $20 or more when you get a flu shot at one of its locations. Click here for the details and to schedule an appointment.
Schedule your annual flu vaccination at Hy-Vee and you’ll receive 20% off per gallon of gas. The flu shot is available at Hy-Vee pharmacies without a prescription. To schedule an appointment, contact your local Hy-Vee store.
You can make an appointment to get a flu shot at Kroger Health’s pharmacies. Click here to book online.
The grocery chain typically welcomes walk-up flu shot appointments at its in-store pharmacies. This year Publix is also offering an online service that allows customers to schedule an appointment and sign consent forms ahead of time, which you can do by clicking here.
Publix provides free flu shots through most health insurance plans, including Medicare.
The pharmacy chain is offering free flu shots with most insurance plans. You can get vaccinated as a walk-in patient or schedule an appointment online.
Although there’s no appointment required, the grocery chain recommends filling out this consent form before you visit to get an immunization. It could really be worth your trouble for the flu shot deals. In addition to getting a free flu shot with most insurance plans, you get 10% off your next grocery purchase up to $200. Some Safeway locations are also offering drive-up flu shot clinics.
Stop by a CVS pharmacy at Target — walk in or schedule an appointment. Flu shots are free with most insurance plans.
Get your free flu shot at Walgreens with most insurance plans. You can either walk in or schedule an appointment at the pharmacy chain. If you’re a myWalgreens member, you can earn $10 Walgreens Cash rewards on your next in-store purchase of $1 or more when you get vaccinated here.
The big box chain is offering low-cost and free flu shots at its 4,600 locations nationwide. Find a Walmart location near you to get your immunization.
Flu shots are also available at Sam’s Club locations with no Sam’s Club membership necessary.
2. Your Doctor and Urgent Care Clinics
If you have health insurance, you can get a free flu shot at a variety of places, including your doctor and urgent care clinics.
While the shot may be free, the office visit may not be — check before you make an appointment or show up at a clinic.
3. Your Workplace
Many employers offer free flu shots to their employees each year. If you haven’t seen any emails or flyers around the office, it doesn’t hurt to ask your human resources department if your company would sponsor an on-site flu vaccination.
Getting vaccinated at work makes it easier to fit it into your schedule, which means more people in your office may decide to get the flu shot this year.
4. Your College Campus
If you’re a college student attending classes on campus, there’s a good chance your college may offer flu shots at no cost. Most times, all you’ll need is your student ID.
To see whether your college is offering free flu shots, contact the health center.
5. Community Health Centers
Community-based health centers are available in areas with limited access to affordable health care services. They provide services regardless of a patients’ ability to pay and charge for services on a sliding scale.
6. VA Health Centers
If you’re a veteran enrolled in the VA health care system, you can get a no-cost flu shot at a VA health care facility or an in-network retail pharmacy or urgent care location near you. Just present a valid, government-issued identification and this form.
Ohio-based contributor Catherine Hiles writes about finance, cars, pet ownership and parenting for The Penny Hoarder. Deputy editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors contributed.