Flu season is already in full effect, and some experts worry that the 2022-2023 flu season will be worse than it has been in years past. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting the vaccine as soon as possible to be protected during the peak of flu season (between November and March). Flu shots can be expensive if you’re uninsured. Out-of-pocket costs can range from $25 to $100, which is why we found where you can find free flu shots without insurance in every state so you and your family can be protected this flu season.
Next, we will answer some of the most common questions about how you can get free flu shots in 2022:
- What is the flu?
- Why is it important to receive the flu shot?
- Where can I get a free flu shot?
- Will I be able to receive free flu shots if I don’t have health insurance?
- I have health insurance. Am I still eligible to get a free flu shot?
- Where can I find more information on free or low-cost medical care?
What is the flu?
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a contagious and potentially serious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include tiredness, fever, chills, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle or body aches. The following groups of people are at higher risk for complications from the flu:
- Pregnant women;
- People over 65 years old; and
- People with certain health conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and a compromised immune system.
Why is it important to receive the flu shot?
Every year in the United States, on average:
- 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
- more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
- about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.
Flu vaccines (often called “flu shots”) protect against the four influenza viruses, and experts state that the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year.
Where can I get a free flu shot?
Below, we have compiled a list of places that offer free flu shots along with their eligibility requirements:
The Vaccines for Children Program (VFC)
To qualify for this federally funded program, a child must be under 19 years old and be any of the following:
- American Indian
- Alaska Native
Vaccines provided by VFC are free. However, there may be an administration or office-visit fee. Contact your local VFC coordinator to find doctors who work with the program.
Local Health Department
Depending on where you live, your local health department may offer free flu shot clinics, regardless of your insurance status. To determine your eligibility, reach out to your state’s health department. Here’s how to contact the health department in each state:
- Alabama Public Health
- Alaska Department of Health
- Arizona Department of Health & TAPI (The Arizona Partnership for Immunization)
- Arkansas Department of Health
- California Department of Public Health
- Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
- Connecticut State Department of Health
- Delaware Department of Public Health
- Florida Department of Health
- Georgia Department of Health
- Hawaii Department of Health
- Idaho Local Public Health Districts and Community Health Centers
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Indiana Department of Health: Call 800-701-0704 for more information on the publicly funded vaccine program.
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Kansas Department of Health & Environment
- Kentucky Department of Health
- Louisiana Department of Health
- Maine Department of Health
- Maryland Department of Health
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Michigan Department of Health
- Minnesota Department of Health
- Mississippi Department of Health
- Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services
- Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services
- Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
- Nevada: Immunize Nevada
- New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services
- New Jersey Department of Health
- New Mexico Department of Health
- New York State Department of Health
- North Carolina Department of Health
- North Dakota Department of Health
- Ohio Department of Health
- Oklahoma Department of Health
- Oregon Health Authority
- Pennsylvania Department of Health
- Rhode Island’s St Joseph Center for Health and Human Services
- South Carolina Department of Health
- South Dakota Department of Health
- Tennessee Department of Health
- Texas Department of Health
- Utah Department of Health and Human Services
- Vermont Department of Health
- Virginia Department of Health
- Washington State Department of Health
- West Virginia Department of Health
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services
- Wyoming Department of Health
You can also use the Find A Center tool to locate your local health department. See the example below.
If you’re unable to contact your local center, try one of the following options:
- Local churches and other community organizations often organize special events, including free, on-site flu vaccines for people in need.
- Public health clinics often offer low-cost vaccine programs for patients concerned about the flu. Urgent care facilities may also give free flu vaccines to people without medical insurance.
Ultimately, your ability to receive a free flu shot will depend on where you live and what services are available nearby.
I have health insurance. Am I still eligible to get a free flu shot?
Most insurers cover the annual flu vaccine as preventive care, often at no cost to the insured. That is the case for Medicare enrollees, many Medicaid enrollees, and people with coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces such as Healthcare.gov. Aside from your primary care provider, you can receive a free flu vaccine at the following retailers:
- ACME: offers free flu shots with insurance. Patients will receive a 10% coupon off of groceries (up to $20) when they receive their flu vaccine.
- CVS: Flu shots are free for most insured patients. Everyone who receives a flu shot at CVS will get a coupon for $5 off purchases of $20 or more.
- Publix: offers free flu shots for patients with most insurance plans. Adults who get a flu shot at Publix will get a $10 gift card for the supermarket.
- Walgreens: Flu vaccines are free under most insurance plans at Walgreens pharmacy locations. Patients will earn $5 in Walgreens rewards for every $1 spent for each vaccine they receive.
- Rite Aid
For a complete list of stores that offer flu shots for free, click here.
Where can I find more information on free or low-cost medical care?
Did you know that you can access health care even if you cannot afford it or do not qualify for government insurance through Medicaid or CHIP? Medical care is available in most communities for free or at a low cost through community health centers. For more information on how to find free and low-cost health services near you, click here.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to provide our community with timely and reliable information and access to relevant resources. This article is not to persuade anyone to get vaccinated.