Flu Season is Here: How to Get a Flu Shot
There’s a reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants you to get a flu shot. During the 2017-1018 flu season alone, the group estimates that 49,000,000 American contracted the flu. And this one flu season resulted in 22.7 million people needing to see a doctor, 959,000 people needing hospitalization, and 79,400 deaths. In other words, the flu can have a huge impact on everyone.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. And that’s because of the flu shot, which comes with major benefits.
The more people who get the flu vaccine, the fewer people who contract the disease, as it becomes harder to spread as a result of what’s known as herd immunity. If you do get the flu vaccine and still contract the flu, your symptoms will be significantly lessened. Think: less time out of work. And fewer health care costs to you as a result of illness. And a lower risk of serious flu-related complications. Equally important is that a flu vaccine equals less time feeling sick—for you, and for your community.
So how do you get a flu shot? There are lots of options, and most of them are available with little to no cost to you.
How to Get a Flu Shot: Your Options
What do you need to do and where do you need to go for the flu vaccine? Figuring out how to get a flu shot is easier than you may think. Here’s what you need to know:
If you have health insurance
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), if you have ACA-compliant insurance, the flu shot is available to you at no cost.
That means, for a $0 co-pay, you get a flu shot and get protected this flu season.
Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to go get a no-cost flu shot almost anywhere. Flu shots are often given everywhere from your doctor’s office to your local pharmacy. Be sure to check the details on your individual insurance plan, though. Some health plans cover the flu shot at no cost only if you get it from a certain provider. But, many plans allow you to get your flu shot from any number of places. Familiarize yourself with the details of your plan to maximize your cost savings. That way, you can save more time and money through deciding how to get a flu shot. Check out your insurance plan’s website to learn about your coverage.
If you don’t have health insurance
If you don’t have health insurance, you will most likely need to pay out-of-pocket for your flu vaccination. You can expect to pay somewhere between $20 – $40. Most pharmacies, including those at any major chain drug store and grocery store, should have the flu shot in-stock during flu season. These places have the flu shot ready to administer to walk-ins. Be sure to go when you have plenty of time, though, as you may have to wait. You can call around before you go to compare prices. Target, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Costco are some of the places you may want to call and price check. A Costco membership is not required to use the Costco pharmacy, and they are frequently cited as offering the lowest prices on medications, including the flu vaccine.
Many county health departments offer free flu shot clinics. Some are specifically for seniors, who are a high-risk population when it comes to the flu, but some are for all adults. Again, contacting your county health department will be the best way to find out where there might be a free flu shot clinic near you, and if you are eligible for it.
If you’d like to find an Affordable Care Act health plan, enter your zip code below.
Lastly, you may want to check with your employer to see if they might be offering the flu shot on-site this year. Many employers do so since herd immunity is the best means of protection against the flu. Your company’s HR department can give you more information about whether the flu shot will be offered at your job this year, and if you will incur any costs should you wish to get it there, and whether you need to be insured to do so.
Stopping the Spread of the Flu
The flu season technically ranges from October to May, with the season typically peaking between December and February. This is why the CDC recommends that all people get the flu shot before the end of October, to maximize the preventive effects of the vaccine on the most number of people.
Keep in mind that while the CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 month and older in the U.S. receive a flu shot, flu prevention doesn’t stop there. If you do get sick with the flu, it is important to stay home to not further spread germs. Likewise, if you know of someone who is sick, it is important to stay away from them to keep the flu from further spreading. Hand washing is also critical, and should be done regularly throughout the day and especially before meals.
If you are exposed to the flu, contact your healthcare provider. There are antiviral drugs you can take within 48 hours of exposure that can severely lessen your symptoms, and, in some cases, stop you from feeling the full effects of the flu altogether.
But most importantly, please encourage everyone you know to also get the flu shot. The flu vaccine is the most essential way to stop the spread of the flu each year.