If there was ever a time to get the flu shot, it’s probably amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having two potentially deadly viruses that share some of the same symptoms makes getting the flu vaccine important for both protecting yourself from the flu and reducing the strain on healthcare facilities responding to the coronavirus.
The good news: Flu activity in the U.S. is unusually low at this time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It attributes the drop to precautions taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, including a record high number of Americans receiving doses of the flu vaccine.
But 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 a little extra spending money by taking your shot.
Where to Get a Free or Low-Cost Flu Shot
The annual flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu and reduce the severity if you do contract it.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine 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.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all marketplace insurance plans must cover the cost of the vaccine. However, check your plan for details, as some set limitations on where you can get the shot for free.
Ready to protect yourself from the influenza virus? Here’s where to go for your shot.
1. Local Retailers, Grocery Stores and Pharmacies
Just by showing your insurance card, you can get a free flu shot at many places you’re already visiting, which makes this a convenient option for most people.
Some providers may have limited supplies of the flu vaccine remaining — check with your location before you go.
If you don’t have insurance, you can typically get the shot for less than $50 at the following businesses:
- Costco. You don’t need to be a member of the warehouse club to use a Costco pharmacy. And even if you don’t have insurance, you can get a flu vaccine starting at $19.99. Walk-ins are welcome, or you can click here to book an appointment online.
- CVS. Get your flu shot at CVS pharmacy or its Minute Clinic. Click here for the details and to schedule an appointment.
- Kroger. You can make an appointment to get a flu shot at Kroger Health’s pharmacies. Click here to book online.
- Publix. The grocery chain typically welcomes walk-up flu shot appointments, but this year it 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.
- Rite Aid. Flu shots at the pharmacy chain are available without insurance for $39.99. No appointment is necessary, but click here for the consent form you should bring with you.
- Safeway. Although no appointment is necessary, the grocery chain recommends filling out this consent form before you visit. It could really be worth your trouble — you get 10% off your next grocery trip with an immunization.
- Target. Stop by a CVS pharmacy at Target — walk in or schedule an appointment.
- Walgreens. You can either walk in or schedule an appointment at the pharmacy chain.
- Walmart. In response to the pandemic, the retailer launched a digital scheduler via the Walmart mobile app. And all Walmart employees will be able to get flu shots at the retailer’s pharmacies for free — regardless of their insurance status. It’s also offering a special pharmacy hour from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Tuesdays for seniors and those at-risk.
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
If your office closed due to the pandemic, your employer might not be offering free flu shots this year. However, if you’re still showing up to work, it doesn’t hurt to ask your human resources department if your company would sponsor an on-site flu vaccination.
4. Your College Campus
If campus is open, there’s a good chance your college is still offering free flu shots to college students. Most times, all you’ll need is your student ID.
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.
Depending on where you live, your local health center may offer free flu shots, regardless of your insurance status. Locate a center near you by clicking here.
6. VA Health Centers
If you’re a veteran enrolled in the VA health care system, you can get a flu shot for free 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 flyer.
And if none of these places work for you, check with VaccineFinder.org for vaccination locations near you. Regardless of where you choose to , get your shot as soon as possible.
Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.