Every fall, you’re reminded by pharmacies, employers and probably even your mom that it’s time to get your flu shot. Flu season usually starts in October and peaks in December, since the virus thrives in winter’s lower humidity and cooler temps. But the vaccine takes some time to kick in, which is why it always feels like we start talking about flu shots while it’s still summer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting vaccinated early in the fall, at least before the end of October. (But if you forget until January or later, it can still be beneficial to go for the shot.) While it’s impossible to predict what kind of flu season 2017-2018 will bring, the latest iteration of the vaccine has been updated, so it’s a better match for the circulating strands of flu virus we’re most likely to encounter, according to the CDC.
To help you out, we’ve rounded up all the places where you can get your flu shot now without paying a dime. To find the vaccine-provider nearest you, just plug in your zip code and check the box for flu at VaccineFinder.org.
Your primary-care doctor
If you’re enrolled in a health insurance plan through a state-run marketplace or almost any private plan, your provider will cover the cost of the flu shot entirely, even if you go to your doctor for the shot. There’s no copayment or coinsurance for your appointment—just protection from the flu, whether you’ve hit your yearly deductible yet or not.
Can’t make it to your regular doctor because of the 9 to 5 office hours? Check with local urgent-care centers. Many stock flu shots and provide them gratis if you have insurance, but you’ll want to call ahead of time to make sure the shots are available at the center you choose.
Many corporations offer free flu shots on site or provide vouchers you can take to local pharmacies.
Some research shows that college students are particularly likely to skip out on getting vaccinated. If you’re still in school, head to your campus health center, where you can typically score the shot.
Plenty of neighborhood pharmacies offer no-cost flu shots for people with health insurance, including Walgreens . (If you’re looking for a free vaccine in NYC, Walgreens owns Duane Reade and also provides free flu shots there.)
Target and CVS
Inside many Target locations you’ll find a CVS pharmacy, where you can get a free flu shot and a $5 coupon for Target. You can get a no-cost flu shot at CVS pharmacies too, and you may even qualify for a $5 coupon if you do.
Several larger grocery store chains around the country, including Giant and Stop & Shop, offer pharmacy services on the premises—and in many cases that means a free flu shot with most health insurance plans.
Rite Aid is another pharmacy chain giant where you can get a free flu shot with most types of insurance.
Walmart stores also offer pharmacy services, including free flu shots.