Yes, you need to get a flu shot — here’s where to get one

Most urgent care facilities, pharmacies and primary care offices offer flu shots. 

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“I never get sick.” “The flu shot doesn’t work anyway.” Those are just a couple common excuses — and, admittedly, excuses I’ve uttered myself — when flu season rolls around. For whatever reason, people kick, scream and cry about the flu shot, when just getting the dang thing is the best way to protect yourself from the flu

You can certainly make other efforts to ward off the virus, such as washing your hands regularly and, in the age of coronavirus, wearing a mask and keeping your distance from other people.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t hide the fact that the flu shot isn’t perfect (no vaccine is perfect), but the fact of the matter is that the flu shot does work and it remains the most effective prevention method for influenza virus. 

In this article, learn about where you can find flu shots for cheap and for free, plus more on why you really need one — and why getting your flu shot is “more important than ever” in 2020.

Should I get a flu shot during the coronavirus pandemic? 


Getting your flu shot is extra important this year to avoid a “twindemic.”

Sarah Tew/CNET

Yes, yes, and yes again. Getting your flu shot this year is mightily important — not because the flu shot can protect you from COVID-19 (it can’t), but because it can save our hospitals from overflowing. The flu puts hundreds of thousands of people in the hospital every year, from the flu itself and from flu-related complications, such as pneumonia. 

Dr. Nabeel Chaudhary, an internist at Manhattan Specialty Care, says everyone who can get the flu shot should get it this year, despite the fact that the novel coronavirus is still circulating. Consider it an essential trip out of your home. 

To optimize health and safety, everyone who gets a flu shot should “Use all recommended precautionary measures, including hand sanitizer and [wearing] face masks while leaving their homes to get the vaccine and for any other reasons,” Dr. Chaudhary says. “These measures will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and flu.”

As a reminder, you can get your flu shot when you “go to the doctor for any other reason,” Dr. Chaudhary says. So if you already have an appointment scheduled for something else, minimize your trips to the clinic by getting your flu shot then. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a doctor’s office, try a pharmacy or quick clinic, Dr. Chaudhary says. 

Where can I find flu shots near me? 

Most local pharmacies offer flu shots, as do drug stores and quick clinics. All of the major chain pharmacies in the US — CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger — offer flu shots at most of their locations across the country. 

Each one offers its own pharmacy finder: 

Your local pharmacy probably offers flu shots, too.

You can also ask your primary care physician about getting a flu shot. Many urgent care clinics also offer flu shots, but you might have to cough up a copay — which is still better than coughing up your lungs if you get the flu. 

The CDC offers a handy flu shot finder that works by ZIP code: Try it here

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Can I get a free flu shot?

Sometimes, but not always.

If you have insurance, you can get a discounted or free flu shot almost anywhere, including local pharmacies, chain pharmacies and your primary care doctor’s office. 

If you go to urgent care, the shot itself might be free or discounted, but you’ll likely have to pay the copay. And at your doctor’s office, they’ll probably offer the shot for free, but you might have to pay for the office visit if it isn’t covered by your insurance — keep these things in mind when weighing your options. 

Where to get a flu shot if you don’t have insurance

If you don’t have insurance, the best place to get a flu shot is usually a pharmacy, according to Rite Aid’s executive vice president of pharmacy and retail operations, Jocelyn Konrad. The cost typically ranges from $30 to $40, but there will be no copay or office visit fee, as there would be if you went to a traditional primary care office. 

Some pharmacies offer discounts or promotions to incentivize flu shots, such as CVS’s “$5 off $25” coupon when you get your flu shot. 

When do I need to get the flu shot?

The ideal time to get vaccinated is before flu season starts and before the flu begins spreading in your community, Konrad told CNET. 

The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, but getting vaccinated later in the season can still protect you. Many pharmacies and doctor’s offices begin offering flu shots as early as the beginning of September. 

Read more: Want to prevent the flu? Try this

Flu shots for babies and children

Young children and babies have a higher risk of contracting the flu, so it’s even more critical for them to get vaccinated. However, babies younger than 6 months cannot receive the vaccine, so families with infants should take extra precautions. 

Parents and caregivers of children under six months should be vaccinated to prevent getting the flu and passing it along to an infant. And anyone who comes in contact with a young infant should also be vaccinated.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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