- What is the flu?
The flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often experience fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Some people, such as people ages 65+, young children and those with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year with a flu shot.
- What is the flu shot?
The “flu shot” is a vaccine that protects you from the flu virus. It is inactivated, which means it contains a killed version of the virus which cannot cause disease and is most commonly given as an injection (with a needle) in the arm.
This season’s vaccine protects against four influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and 2 influenza B viruses.
The vaccine takes effect approximately two weeks after it has been administered as antibodies (substances in the blood that protect against infection) accumulate and provide protection against influenza. Therefore, it is important to get a flu shot before the flu begins to circulate in your area as you may be susceptible to influenza during the two weeks after your flu shot.
The flu shot will not 100% eliminate the risk of getting the flu as there are several strains of viruses that can cause the flu. However, data suggests flu symptoms may be milder and complications can be reduced following vaccination. It can also protect others who are vulnerable but may not be able to receive the vaccine for a variety of reasons.
To learn more about flu shots from the CDC, visit the CDC website opens a page in new tab or download the following documents:
Influenza (Live, Intranasal) (PDF) opens a page in new tab
Influenza (Inactivated) (PDF) ) opens a page in new tab
- Who should get a flu shot?
The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu shot every flu season, including those are who healthy or have health conditions. Walgreens offers flu shots to anyone ages 3+. It’s recommended that anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu should be vaccinated. It’s especially important for certain people to get vaccinated, such as those who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes:
People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, weakened immune systems, diabetes and chronic heart or lung disease
People ages 65+
People who live with or care for others who are at high risk for developing serious complications. This includes household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and others.
According to CDC analysis opens a page in new tab of flu hospitalization data, people from certain racial and ethnic minority groups, including non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino people
- Who should not get a flu shot?
The flu shot should not be given to:
- Children younger than 6 months of age
- People with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu shot or any ingredient in the vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients.
Certain individuals should not be vaccinated without first consulting a healthcare professional. These patients include:
- People who had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS) within six weeks of getting the flu vaccine previously
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever, including those with COVID-19, should wait until they recover before getting a flu shot
- Is there a flu shot for ages 65+?
Adults ages 65+ have a higher risk for developing complications from the flu and account for more than 60% of the flu-related hospitalizations each year. Recent studies show that people ages 65+ may not respond as well to standard-dose flu shots because they do not produce as high of an antibody response following vaccination as do younger people. People with low antibody levels may be at higher risk of catching the flu.
While adults ages 65+ may receive a standard flu shot, there are vaccines designed specifically for patients ages 65+ that work by improving the production of antibodies in order to provide a stronger immune response to the flu than traditional vaccines. Like the standard flu shot, these vaccines are given as an injection in the arm and the side effects are similar, though some patients may experience increased pain, redness, or swelling around the injection site compared to standard-dose flu vaccines.
- When should I get the flu shot?
The CDC recommends that people get the flu shot before the flu is widespread by late fall. The peak flu season is typically October to March in the U.S. but people should receive their vaccine as long as the virus is circulating. People should get their flu shot every flu season to ensure the best protection from the flu for themselves and others.
- What are the common side effects of the flu shot?
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
If these side effects occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. Over the counter products may be recommended to manage minor side effects. Most people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.
- Do all Walgreens stores administer flu shots?
All Walgreens retail locations administer the flu shot and other routine vaccines for COVID-19, shingles, pneumococcal (pneumonia), and pertussis (whooping cough).
View all immunizations
- Who administers the flu shot at Walgreens?
Our licensed pharmacists, pharmacy interns and trained technicians administer flu shots in all Walgreens pharmacies. Visit your local Walgreens to speak with a pharmacist and to get your flu shot today.
- Is my flu shot at Walgreens covered by insurance?
The flu shot is covered by most insurance plans with a $0 copay, although provider networks may vary; those enrolled in Medicare Part B and many with Medicaid in certain states2 Footnote may also receive the flu shot at no cost. Our cash price is as follows:
- Quadrivalent shot: $58.99
- 65+: $108.99
Members of Walgreens Prescription Savings Club receive 20 percent off the cash retail price
2 Varies by state. See pharmacy for details.
- What's the difference between the flu and COVID-19?
The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious infections caused by different viruses that spread through respiratory droplets. They can cause mild to severe illnesses and similar symptoms, including fever, cough, body aches and fatigue, which are sometimes difficult to distinguish due to their similarities. Getting vaccinated not only protects you but also those around you.
- Can I access my family’s vaccine history?
Yes! You can view you and your family’s vaccine history at Walgreens through our vaccination records page.
To see your family’s vaccine history, you will need to ensure they are added to your account. To do that, follow the steps below:
Free Flu Shots - Schedule Flu Shot Appointments | Walgreens
*No cost to you with most insurance. Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age- and health-related restrictions may apply.
We can vaccinate your whole family for the flu
- CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get the Flu shot*Footnote. Walgreens can vaccinate everyone 3+.
- It’s especially important for adults 65+, those with certain medical conditions or those at a higher risk of developing serious complications from flu
- We have CDC recommended flu shots for adults 65+
Multiple vaccines in one easy visit
Get the facts about the flu
View each tile to learn more
How long does the flu shot last & why do I need it every year?
A flu vaccine is needed every year for two reasons. First, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual flu vaccine is needed for optimal protection.
Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the composition of flu vaccines is reviewed annually and are updated to protect against the viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually. Walgreens can vaccines everyone 3+.
Can the flu shot make me sick?
No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Some people report having mild side effects after flu vaccination, such as:
- Muscle aches
- Low-grade fever
- Arm pain at the injection site
To help ease the pain and avoid the symptoms, you can take a pain reliever like Tylenol or Ibuprofen for muscle aches, headaches and a low-grade fever.
For arm pain, apply a cool compress and keep your arm moving after the shot.
Can I get a flu shot if I'm pregnant, diabetic or have chronic illnesses?
It's especially important for certain people to get vaccinated, such as those who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes:
- Pregnant women
- Young children
- People ages 65+
- People who live with or care for others who are at high risk for developing serious complications.
The flu can be a serious disease. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy individuals.
Our dedicated pharmacists are here for you if you have any questions related to receiving vaccinations.
Can I get a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?
Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time, per CDC recommendation.
There are other vaccines you can receive with the flu shot, as well - including shingles, pneumonia, whooping cough, and others. Your pharmacist can help you decide what is best for you.
Save a trip and schedule multiple vaccines for one appointment.
Get a Shot. Give a Shot.®
Get your flu shot today and help provide a lifesaving vaccine to a child in need.
Important flu information from healthcare professionals and pharmacists.
Can you get the flu shot and other vaccinations together? Play video.
Walgreens Ask our Pharmascist. High-dose flu shots for seniors. Play video.
Fast facts. What to know about the flu shot. Play video.
Frequently Asked Questions
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This publication should be used for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this publication.
Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age-, and health-related restrictions may apply.
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