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Where to get your flu shot in 2021

Yes, you really need it -- here's where to get it, plus whether you can get it at the same time as your COVID-19 shot or booster.

Amanda Capritto
Kim Wong-Shing Senior Associate Editor / Wellness
Kim Wong-Shing loves demystifying the world of wellness to make it accessible to any reader. She's also passionate about exploring the intersections of health, history and culture. Prior to joining CNET, she contributed stories to Glamour, MindBodyGreen, Greatist and other publications.
Expertise Nutrition, personal care, mental health, LGBTQ+ health Credentials
  • Reads health studies in her sleep.
Kim Wong-Shing
5 min read
CVS minute clinic

Most urgent care facilities, pharmacies and primary care offices offer flu shots. 

Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

"I never get sick." "The flu shot doesn't work anyway." Those are just a couple common excuses when flu season rolls around. For whatever reason, people kick, scream and cry about the flu shot -- but the fact of the matter is that the flu shot does work, and it remains the most effective prevention method for influenza virus. 

Like last year, this year's flu season is a little different than usual. We have not only the flu to worry about, but also the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And now that COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available for many citizens, you may be wondering if you should still get a flu shot if you're vaccinated against COVID, or whether you can get a flu shot and COVID booster at the same time.

In this article, learn about who needs a flu shot, where to get one for cheap and for free, plus more on flu shots and COVID.

Should I get a flu shot if I got a COVID shot? 


Getting your flu shot is extra important this year to avoid a "twindemic."

Sarah Tew/CNET

Yes, yes and yes again. The COVID-19 vaccines cannot protect you against the flu, nor can the flu shot protect you from COVID-19. So if you want protection against both COVID-19 and the flu, you'll need two separate vaccines. (Importantly, it's possible to get both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Getting a flu shot is important because it can save our hospitals from overflowing. The flu puts hundreds of thousands of people in the hospital every year, from the flu itself and from flu-related complications, such as pneumonia.

Dr. Nabeel Chaudhary, an internist at Manhattan Specialty Care, says everyone who can get the flu shot should get it. To optimize health and safety, everyone who gets a flu shot should "use all recommended precautionary measures, including hand sanitizer and [wearing] face masks while leaving their homes to get the vaccine and for any other reasons," Chaudhary says. "These measures will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and flu."

As a reminder, you can get your flu shot when you "go to the doctor for any other reason," Chaudhary says. So if you already have an appointment scheduled for something else, minimize your trips to the clinic by getting your flu shot then. You can also try a pharmacy or quick clinic, Chaudhary says (more on those options below).

Can I get a flu shot and a COVID shot or booster at the same time?


Getting your flu shot and COVID-19 booster at the same time is safe.

Alejandro Martinez Gonzalez/Getty Images

Yes, you can! If you're eligible for a COVID-19 booster, you can get your booster and your flu shot at the same time, saving yourself a trip to the clinic or doctor. Similarly, if you're not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19, it's safe to get your first or second COVID-19 vaccine along with your yearly flu shot, as long as you follow the recommended schedule for both vaccines. Most of the pharmacies, clinics and doctors' offices who offer flu shots will also offer free COVID-19 shots.

"While limited data exist on giving COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, including flu vaccines, experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are generally similar whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines," the CDC says on its website. "If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, you should speak with a health care provider."

Research so far has confirmed the CDC's guidance that it's safe to give the COVID-19 vaccine and influenza vaccine at the same time. 

Where can I find flu shots near me? 

Most local pharmacies offer flu shots, as do drug stores and quick clinics. All of the major chain pharmacies in the US -- CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger -- offer flu shots at most of their locations across the country. 

Each one offers its own pharmacy finder: 

Your local pharmacy probably offers flu shots, too.

You can also ask your primary care physician about getting a flu shot. Many urgent care clinics also offer flu shots, but you might have to cough up a copay -- which is still better than coughing up your lungs if you get the flu. 

Watch this: Flu-tracking apps

Can I get a free flu shot?

Sometimes, but not always.

If you have insurance, you can get a discounted or free flu shot almost anywhere, including local pharmacies, chain pharmacies and your primary care doctor's office. 

If you go to urgent care, the shot itself might be free or discounted, but you'll likely have to pay the copay. And at your doctor's office, they'll probably offer the shot for free, but you might have to pay for the office visit if it isn't covered by your insurance -- keep these things in mind when weighing your options. 

Where to get a flu shot if you don't have insurance

If you don't have insurance, the best place to get a flu shot is usually a pharmacy, according to Rite Aid's executive vice president of pharmacy and retail operations, Jocelyn Konrad. The cost typically ranges from $30 to $40, but there will be no copay or office visit fee, as there would be if you went to a traditional primary care office. 

Some pharmacies offer discounts or promotions to incentivize flu shots, such as CVS's "$5 off $20" coupon when you get your flu shot. 

When do I need to get the flu shot?

The ideal time to get vaccinated is before flu season starts and before the flu begins spreading in your community, Konrad told CNET. 

The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, but getting vaccinated later in the season can still protect you. Many pharmacies and doctor's offices begin offering flu shots as early as the beginning of September. 

Read more: Want to prevent the flu? Try this

Flu shots for babies and children

Young children and babies have a higher risk of contracting the flu, so it's even more critical for them to get vaccinated. However, babies younger than 6 months cannot receive the vaccine, so families with infants should take extra precautions. 

Parents and caregivers of children under six months should be vaccinated to prevent getting the flu and passing it along to an infant. And anyone who comes in contact with a young infant should also be vaccinated.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.