Seriously, it's time.

By Sarah Klein
Updated September 29, 2020
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Hey, quick question: Have you gotten your flu shot yet? If your answer was "yes," good for you; carry on. If your answer was "no," what are you waiting for?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that every single person (age six months and older) should get a flu shot before the end of October. That's because flu season typically starts to peak in December—and it can take up to four weeks for you to have full immunity from the flu shot.

Once you get that flu shot, it'll last you about six months, Vanessa Raabe, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Health, previously told Health—which means the flu shot you got last year most definitely won't give you any protection for this year's flu season. Plus, the flu vaccine changes slightly year after year, so last year's shot wouldn't protect you as well as this year's anyway.

While you can technically still get the flu shot well into flu season (like, if you forgot about it until January), it's still wise to get it ASAP—especially when, for most people, it takes less than a minute of your time, and can be totally free. That's right: With most insurances, a flu vaccine costs exactly zero bucks.

Also worth noting: Since health care spaces are operating a little differently this year (you know, because we're in the middle of a pandemic) you might be able to get a flu shot from the comfort of your own car. Many places are offering drive-through flu shots, including some community clinics, major hospital networks, and even grocery chains.

Got some time? Plug your zipcode into the CDC's Flu Vaccine Finder to find the provider closest to you. But, to help you out right this instant, we rounded up everywhere you can get a free flu shot right now, with—and sometimes without—insurance.

Your primary-care doctor

If you're enrolled in a health insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or almost any private plan, your provider will cover the cost of the flu shot entirely. That's right, no copayment for your appointment, just protection from the flu—whether you've hit your yearly deductible yet or not.

Urgent-care centers

Can't make it to your regular doctor because of 9 to 5 office hours? Check with local urgent-care centers. Many stock flu shots and provide them gratis if you have insurance, but you'll want to call ahead of time to make sure the shots are available at the center you choose.

Your job

Many corporations offer free flu shots on site, often without insurance, or provide vouchers you can take to local pharmacies. If you haven't heard anything from your employer about this, check in with HR—they should be able to tell you what's up.

Your college

Some research shows that college students are particularly likely to skip out on getting vaccinated. If you're still in school, head to your campus health center, where you can typically score the shot.

Walgreens, Duane Reade, and Rite Aid

Plenty of neighborhood pharmacies offer no-cost flu shots for people with most health insurance plans, including Walgreens, Rite Aid, and, in New York City, Duane Reade.

Target and CVS

Inside many Target locations you'll find a CVS pharmacy, where you can get a no-cost flu shot and a $5 coupon for Target. You can get a no-cost flu shot at CVS pharmacies too, and you may even qualify for a $5 or $25 coupon if you do.

Supermarkets

Several larger grocery store chains around the country, including Giant, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, and Kroeger offer pharmacy services on the premises—and in many cases that means a free flu shot with most health insurance plans.

Walmart

Walmart stores also offer pharmacy services, including free flu shots with most insurance plans.

Kmart

You can also get a no-cost flu shot, depending on your insurance coverage, at Kmart Pharmacy locations. Another perk: Kmart members also receive cashback rewards for getting vaccinated.

Sam's Club and Costco

Yep, you can grab a flu shot when you're making your weekly bulk-grocery run to Sam's Club or Costco—flu shots (and other vaccines) there have a $0 copay with most insurances. The best part? You don't even need a membership to snag the shot.

Your county health department

According to GoodRX, many county health departments offer free flu shots during flu season—with or without insurance. Contact your county's health department to see if you can benefit from this service.

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