Where To Get a Free Flu Shot—With or Without Insurance

No more excuses!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age six months and older (with just a few exceptions) should get a flu shot before the end of October. That's because the flu season typically begins in October and starts to peak in December—and it takes several weeks to develop full immunity from the shot.

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How Long Does the Flu Shot Last?

Once you get that flu shot, it'll last you about six months, said Vanessa Raabe, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone 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 CDC says that the flu vaccine changes from year to year as scientists try to predict which strains of the virus will be dominant. 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 health insurance, a flu vaccine costs exactly zero bucks.

Where Can You Get the Flu Shot?

If you don't have health insurance, there are still ways to get the flu shot for free. If worse comes to worse and you have to pay out of pocket, the vaccine generally costs anywhere from $20 to about $85, depending on where you go and what kind of vaccine you get. The flu shots made specifically for people age 65 and over, for instance, are more expensive (though Medicare Part B covers the senior vaccines in full).

Check with places where you're enrolled in some kind of loyalty program to see whether you might be eligible for a discount. Walgreens, for example, gives 20% off the retail price of flu shots to those enrolled in their Prescription Savings Club.

Also worth noting: Some places offer drive-through flu shots, including some community clinics, major hospital networks, and even grocery chains.

To help you out, we rounded up all the places where you can get a free flu shot with—and even without—insurance. While many places welcome walk-ins, it's smart to go online or call first to see if you need an appointment.

Your Primary Care Provider

If you're enrolled in a health insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or have almost any private plan, your health insurance will cover the cost of the flu shot. 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 healthcare provider because of work or personal commitments? Check with local urgent care centers. Many are open after hours and on weekends, and they'll provide flu shots free if you have insurance. Call them ahead of time to make sure the shots are available at the center you choose.

Your Job

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

Your University

Some research shows that college students are particularly likely to skip out on getting vaccinated. A 2017 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found fewer than half typically get the flu shot. If you're still in school, head to your campus health center, where you can often score the flu shot—gratis.

Local Pharmacies

Many independent pharmacies and almost all large national pharmacy chains like Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid offer no-cost flu shots for people with most health insurance plans. When you get a flu shot, some pharmacies give you a coupon good for a discount on a purchase at the store (at the CVS pharmacies inside Target stores, you'll get a $5 coupon that you can apply toward a purchase of $20 or more at Target).

Supermarkets

Most of the country's large grocery store chains, including Stop & Shop, Kroger, and Safeway, have pharmacies on the premises that offer free flu shots with most health insurance plans. Even stores without pharmacies may sponsor pop-up flu shot clinics on site. You can also grab a flu shot when you're making your weekly bulk-grocery run to Sam's Club or Costco.

Local Health Departments, Community Centers, or Religious Sites

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. Even if you don't have health insurance (as about 10% of Americans under age 64 don't, per the Kaiser Family Foundation), you may be able to get the jab without cost through local churches and synagogues, free clinics, and community centers.

A Quick Review

The influenza vaccine is important to protect you and your loved ones against the seasonal flu. Whether you have insurance or not, the flu vaccine is likely available at no cost to you through your healthcare provider, pharmacy, church, job, urgent care center, local grocery store, and school—among other places. So be sure to protect yourself from the seasonal flu and get your free flu shot.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key facts about the flu vaccine.

  2. Walgreens. Prescription savings club can lower the price of keeping you well.

  3. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Will the Affordable Care Act cover my flu shot?

  4. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. National survey suggests a combination of education, access, and incentives may help increase flu vaccination on college campuses.

  5. Kaiser Family Foundation. Uninsured.

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