Seasonal shots shouldn’t hurt

By now no doubt you’ve started to see the public health announcements urging you to get your seasonal flu shot. And, if all goes as expected, many people will see similar announcements about the H1N1 vaccine in mid-October. So who pays for the shots?

The H1N1 shot will be free, although doctor’s offices and clinics may charge an administrative fee. (See related story.) Some insurance companies will cover that fee.

Standard costs will apply for the seasonal flu shot, however.

As for those, “that depends on your insurance coverage or, if you’re not covered by insurance, your ability to pay or options for getting the shot for free,” says Thomas Klett, a specialist on employment and disability issues in the Stamford, Conn., office of consulting firm Watson Wyatt.


Insurance firms vary in terms of seasonal flu vaccine coverage. Some will cover all costs, while others require a co-pay (for which you can be use funds from a flexible or health spending account). Co-pays are generally $10 to $25 per injection.

No insurance? Physician offices usually charge about $25 to $75 for the seasonal shot, including administrative fees, so ask before you roll up your sleeve.

A less-expensive option could be pharmacies. Chain stores often staff up with healthcare workers who can give the seasonal flu shot.

Walgreens, for example, is charging $24.99 per flu shot. CVS announced recently that it would offer 100,000 seasonal flu shots free of charge to people who are unemployed. Vouchers for the free shots will eventually be given out at select Career Onestop employment centers (

Visit or check with the pharmacist at a local branch.

Public health clinics are a good resource, but if your income is too high, you may have to pay something toward the shot, says Dr. Jonathan Fielding, health officer for L.A. County.

Many clinics determine cost based on income. Find a clinic offering seasonal shots in your neighborhood by calling 211, a free call. Ask what income documentation you need to get a free or low-cost shot.

The American Lung Assn. offers a list of flu shot locations at


On Medicare? Your shot is free and doctors cannot charge an administrative fee, according to Paul Precht of the Medicare Rights Center in Washington, D.C.

If you are immunizing a child for the first time, the child may need two shots. Ask the healthcare professional giving the shot if you will have to pay two fees.