Children can also get a flu vaccine at drugstores, but some stores may not administer the vaccines to especially young children (Walgreens, for instance, doesn’t administer to children under seven). So, it’s best to call ahead to see what their restrictions are.
4. I normally get my flu vaccine at work, but now I’m working from home. Where can I get it?
If you, like many people, typically rely on your workplace to provide flu vaccines, you should take the time to make other plans this year. And because you won’t have the reminders from your office that flu shot day is coming, know that you’ll have to be proactive about making it happen yourself, Dr. Ratner says.
You can absolutely get your flu vaccine at a doctor’s office, but unlike kids, adults may not have a go-to physician. And if you don’t already have a regular healthcare provider, making an appointment for a flu shot may be a daunting process.
If you prefer, you can instead get your flu vaccine at many drug stores (such as CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreen’s, etc.) or urgent care centers. You can also use the CDC’s VaccineFinder tool to find someplace near you that’s offering the flu shot.
5. Where can I get a flu vaccine without insurance?
If you don’t have a job or health insurance right now, it’s understandable that getting a flu vaccine may not be your top priority, Dr. Ratner says. But there are actually a few ways to get no- or low-cost flu shots through your local public health department, he explains. For instance, most pharmacies, clinics, and urgent care centers offer flu shots at a relatively low cost for those without insurance (ranging from about $20 to $40 depending on the form of the vaccine and where you’re getting it).
Additionally, in many cities and states, the local health department will fund vaccine drives that might occur at schools, hospitals, or other health centers. However, the pandemic might make those difficult to carry out this year, so it’s worth checking with your local health department to see what their specific plans are.
For kids, the CDC’s Vaccine for Children program provides free vaccines via local health services for kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get them due to cost.
6. Is it safer to get my flu shot at a doctor’s office than, say, a pharmacy or urgent care center?
Whether you’re going to a doctor’s office, pharmacy, or urgent care center, “take the same precautions that you would if you were going to a grocery store,” Dr. Ratner says, meaning that you should wear your mask, practice good hand hygiene (and bring your hand sanitizer with you), and, if possible, avoid going at the busiest times of day. You can call and ask your doctor’s office, local drug store, or urgent care center if they have any times of day that are usually less busy, he says.
But, ultimately, as long as everyone is keeping up the health safety behaviors they should be, there won’t be any huge difference in risk related to getting your vaccine in different places, Dr. Ratner says, even if there’s a line. Some states and cities are even offering drive-through vaccinations. And we know that the benefits of getting the flu shot will likely outweigh the risks, especially if people are taking the appropriate precautions.
7. Will the precautions we take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also help with the flu?
Hopefully yes! All the public health tools we’re currently using to reduce the spread of the coronavirus—wearing masks, washing and sanitizing our hands all the time, and social distancing—may also help us keep the flu at bay, Dr. Cherry says. Let’s not forget that masks also worked a hundred years ago during the 1918 flu pandemic, he notes.
But because we’re still spending more time at home (especially when the weather gets colder), we may see that people who share living spaces spread the flu to each other more easily, Dr. Ratner says. That underscores just how important it is for everyone in a particular household to keep up those COVID-19 and flu prevention behaviors—for their health and the health of everyone they live with.