How to save on the flu vaccine
(photo credit: Target)
We are currently experiencing one of the most significant flu seasons in over a decade. You can always visit CDC.gov for the latest statistics, but as of the date of the writing of this column, over 122 cities are still seeing “elevated” incidence of the flu. Unfortunately, a few dozen infants and children have lost their lives to the flu this season, and even more adults. As scary as it is, there are things you can do to help reduce yours and your family’s risk of contracting the flu.
The CDC makes the following recommendations:
- Get a flu vaccination. Medical experts agree that this is the #1 most important step you can take to protect yourself and those around you. Remember that the goal of flu shots is not just to prevent deaths, but also to prevent suffering from flu symptoms and to reduce complications, time lost from work, and spread of disease in the community.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. This is a good start, but it’s not enough. Some flu viruses have been found to live on surfaces for up to eight hours, which is why you need the vaccine in conjunction with good hygiene habits.
- Stay home when you are sick. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
- Practice overall good health habits. Eat healthy foods, stay hydrated and get enough sleep.
Even though it takes 10-14 days for your flu vaccine to become effective, it’s not too late in the season to get one. Cases of the flu are often reported well into May, so get one if you haven’t already. A flu shot usually costs about $20-$30 if you buy one at a store or pharmacy, but there are many ways to save money if you are watching your budget.
- Call your health insurance company and ask if it’s covered. In many cases it is. If it is, call your provider and see if they have walk-in hours to get one.
- Call your state or county health department, as many times they have free and low-cost clinics for flu shots.
- Ask at your HR person where you work if they are offering them at the workplace for free or low-cost. Since having a flu shot often reduces the amount of money lost due to sick time, many businesses offer this service for their employees.
- If you are a veteran, call your VA and see if they are offering free or low-cost flu shots.
- If you are using some type of assistance program, such as EBT, WIC, Medicare/Medicaid or other program like that, call your case manager or local office to see if they have recommendations.
If none of those options work for you and you still have to purchase one, many big retailers are offering specials and discounts. In most states, it’s perfectly legal for the store’s pharmacist to give a flu shot which makes it very convenient for customers. While you may not want to spend the $30 now, it’s money well spent. If you do get sick and require Tamiflu or some other specialized prescription, it will be well over $30. Here is a list of regional and national retailers and what flu shot promotions they have. Call your local store if you have any questions or to verify before you go in.
- Acme (check your Supervalu store like Osco or Jewel)-flu shot is $29.99. No other promos besides promotional price are listed at this time.
- BJ’s Wholesale Club-If your BJ’s has a pharmacy, flu shots are available to members. No price listed, call your local store for details.
- CVS-get a 20% off coupon when you purchase a flu shot.
- Giant-listed on website that they are being offered, no price listed.
- Hannaford-offering them for $25 if your store has a pharmacy.
- Kmart-See your store (if it has a pharmacy) for details and pricing.
- Kroger-offering flu shots for $25 if your location has a pharmacy.
- Meijer-also offering for $25 if your location has a pharmacy.
- Pathmark-$30 if your store has a pharmacy.
- Publix-flu shots are $30, see store for details.
- Rite Aid-get a $100 coupon book when you purchase a flu shot. ShopRite-flu shot only $20 with your price club card.
- Target-get a 5% off coupon good for one day, when you purchase a flu shot.
- Walgreens-get 1500 bonus points when you purchase a flu shot. Must be a member of new rewards program.
- Walmart-being offered at some locations, no promos listed. Check before you go.
- Winn Dixie-purchase one and use your Rewards Card, and you may be eligible for freebies and coupons. See store for details.
If we still haven’t given you enough information, please visit Flu.gov. Stay healthy!
Lisa Lightner is a Philadelphia area blogger and mom to two boys. When not working as a Special Education Advocate, she can be found blogging at SmartSpendingSpot and ADayInOurShoes. She also has a local newspaper column in the Kennett Paper about outdoors activities for families.