Flu shot costs are all over the map.
For many of us it doesn’t matter: Many people have their entire flu shot cost covered by insurance, get their shot for free at work, or have a low enough co-pay and high enough income to make the cost not worrisome. For others, it matters a lot: Imagine a family of five who’s uninsured, or imagine you’re in a hurry because you missed the free shots at work, so you could be asked to pay $19 or $65.
If you are covered by a plan through your state’s Affordable Care Act exchange, Healthcare.gov or Medicare, your flu shot cost should be $0. Medicaid coverage varies by state. You should check first by calling the Medicaid office to be sure. Here’s an information rundown from the Centers for Disease Control.
Looking for vaccines? A good place to start is this vaccine finder, accessed via vaccines.gov, which lists providers and allows you to narrow locations based the type of dose you need. You can search for locations by Zip code or allow the site to pinpoint your location for you.
The best way to find flu vaccine prices
The vaccine finder lists only some prices, unfortunately, and many pharmacies do not list prices on their own websites. If you want to know for certain the cost of the vaccine at your pharmacy, call them and ask for the out-of-pocket price and, if you have insurance, the cost with your coverage. Calling ahead can also save you a trip to the pharmacy if it’s temporarily out of the vaccine.
What kind of flu vaccine should you get?
If you are 64 or younger or have a child older than 6 months, the CDC recommends a normal flu shot, called a quadrivalent, the C.D.C. says.
“All flu vaccines in the United States are quadrivalent,” the C.D.C. website says. “Different vaccines are approved for different age groups. Information on approved flu vaccines for the 2021-2022 flu season, and age indications for each vaccine are available in CDC’s Table: U.S. Influenza Vaccine Products for the 2022-2023 Season.“
For people under 65, the C.D.C. says, no particular vaccine is recommended of those available.
“For the 2022-2023 flu season, there are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended for people 65 years and older. These are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine,” the C.D.C. website says. “This recommendation was based on a review of available studies which suggests that, in this age group, these vaccines are potentially more effective.”
For most people it has “no preference” for one type of vaccine over another, according to its website. Nasal mist vaccines are fine, as are vaccines made without egg proteins, known by the brand name Flublok. (If you have an egg allergy, ask your doctor whether you should visit a clinic to get your vaccine instead of at a pharmacy.)
“Some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people,” the C.D.C. advises. “Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. More information is available at Who Should and Who Should NOT get a Flu Vaccine.“
Getting a flu shot free
If you’re not insured, or if you are in a hurry to get a shot and are trying not to pay, you can keep an eye out for local flu shot clinics offered by government or clinics.
Some senior citizen groups in different locales will have flu shot clinics. County or local government may be a help: A Google search for Westchester County flu shot clinic turns up this page, with a listing of health centers that might be offering clinics.
This Los Angeles flu information page has several resources. Cedars-Sinai, the big Los Angeles health system, is putting on several flu shot clinics throughout October and November.
New York City’s Health + Hospitals public health system is offering free vaccines at many locations: Visit nychealthandhospitals.org or call 1-844-NYC-4NYC (1-844-692-4692) to find a location near you. Health + Hospitals also offers NYC Care, a program guaranteeing low- and no-cost health care for New Yorkers of limited income.
Also, FindHelp is a website offering information about free or low-cost aid for health, housing, food, education and other help. Search by Zip code for health care providers in your area.
Flu shot out-of-pocket costs
We’ve listed below the cost of flu shots at some large national pharmacies recently. The price may not apply to your location, so call ahead if you want to make sure of the flu shot cost.
Rite-Aid and Walgreens used to list prices online, but now they don’t. Walgreens bought Rite-Aid in 2015, and they sometimes (but not always) follow the same policies. In price lists below, we have noted dates.
For the following prices, normal dose refers to the quadrivalent shot recommended by the CDC for adults younger than 65, and high dose or adults 65+ refers to the shot recommended for those older than 65. Flublok refers to the egg-free vaccine and FluMist to the needle-free vaccine.
Walgreens (2021 price list; no prices listed online in 2022)
- Normal dose: $41
- High dose: $69.99*
- Flublok: Does not carry
- FluMist: Does not carry
- Sources: Spokeswoman and calls to individual Walgreens pharmacy locations
A spokeswoman did not confirm nationwide prices. These numbers are based on calls made to individual Walgreens pharmacies.
CVS Pharmacy 2022
- Standard vaccine (quadrivalent): $49.99
- Standard vaccine (egg-free) (Flublok): $94.99
Adults 65+ vaccine (Fluzone High Dose, FLUAD): $94.99
- Source: CVS website
CVS MinuteClinic 2022
- Normal dose (18 months and up): $50
- Seasonal high dose (65 and up): $95
- Flublok (18 years and up): $95
- Source: MinuteClinic website
- Afluria and Flucelvax- 4 strain flu shot for ages 3 and up: $19.99
- Fluad- specially formulated for seniors: $46.99
- Source: Costco website.
Generally, no membership is required to use the store’s pharmacy. Check with your local Costco to make sure.
Rite-Aid (2021 price list; no prices listed online in 2022)
- Normal dose: $39.99
- High dose: $76.99-$78.99
- Flublok (egg-free): $54.99
- FluMist (no needle): Does not carry
- Source: Spokesman
At the Wegmans chain, the website says that the price of a flu shot for an uninsured person is $39.99 for the Afluria quadrivalent.
Many chains no longer list prices online. This is true for Publix, Kroger, HEB, Shop-Rite, Wal-Mart, Albertson’s and Meijer.
A Hy-Vee in Lee’s Summit, Mo., was advertising flu shots for $28 apiece without insurance in October. At the Fort Madison, Ia., Hy-Vee, the cost was $30 without insurance.
Part 1: How to find out what stuff costs in health care.
Part 2: How to argue a bill.
Part 3: Appealing a denial, or how to turn a “no” into a “yes.”