Is It Worth the Money to Get a Flu Shot?

By Jeffrey Strain

The flu season only has a few more weeks left, and some people may be wondering whether or not this late in the season it still makes sense to get a flu shot. Health officials in the US are urging anyone who still hasn’t gotten a flu shot to go out and get one. This includes everyone over the age of 6 years old and pregnant women. This is because this year’s predominant flu strain is the H1N1 virus which has killed and hospitalized more adults under the age of 65 than in normal years. A California report from the state’s department of health says that there have been 405 people who have either died or been admitted to intensive care due to the flu who are under the age of 65 so far this season, which is more than any season since the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic.

Officials still aren’t certain why there have been an increase in the number of people under the age of 65 who have been admitted to hospitals for the flu, but they note that these are the people who are the least likely to get a flu vaccination. Those between the ages of 18 and 64 get flu shots at a 34% rate while 62% of those 65 and older get them.

Even though it’s late in the flu season, it still makes financial sense to get a flu shot. Depending on your health coverage, you might be able to get the shot at no cost, but if that is too inconvenient, you can get one at most drug stores or pharmacies for about $20. That small investment can save you a lot of money if it helps prevent you from coming down with the flu.

In many ways you should look at getting a shot as an insurance policy. While there is no guarantee that the shot will 100% prevent you from getting the flu since there are a number of different strains going around, if it does (or even lessons the symptoms), it can save you a bundle of money. Here are a few of the ways:

Doctor Visit

It’s important to remember that the flu is not getting a cold. It’s much more severe and will likely keep you from doing your normal routine. More than likely, you’ll make a doctor’s visit to seek some type of relief which will cost you the time and the cost of the visit. If the symptoms happen to be more severe, you might even have to be checked into the hospital. Just thinking about all the costs involved with that should make $20 seem like a huge bargain.


Even if you manage to stay away from the doctor’s office, you will likely shell out money for over-the-counter medicine to try to reduce the symptoms that you do have. The cost of these will likely end up being more than the $20 it would cost to get the shot. Even worse, these medicines are rarely discounted during the flu season, (you should always buy your supply of them in the off season to save money) meaning you’re likely to pay full retail price for them.

Lost Wages

If you come down with the flu, there’s a good chance that you will end up missing a few days of work. That means either losing the wages for those days or taking sick leave or vacation days that could have been used at other times. Either way, it means that you lose money or time that could be used for better things.

Baby Sitters

If any of your children end up getting the flu, then there’s a good chance that you will either have to miss work to take care of them, or hire a babysitter to do so. Either way, you end up losing money either from your own pay (or lost vacation days) or having to pay someone to look after them.

Lost Productivity

Probably the most costly part of getting sick this way is your lost productivity. Even in the best case scenario, if you end up catching it and are able to still work, you’re going to be a lot less productive than you would be when healthy. Much more likely you’ll end up wrapped in a blanket on the couch barely able to move for a week as you try to sleep it off.

When you take all this into account, financially you should make sure to get a flu vaccine each and every year as soon as they are available. But even this late into the flu season, it still makes sense to spend a little money so that you don’t end up spending a lot of money and time fighting something you could have avoided. No matter what, be diligent and take the easy measures available to avoid getting the flu in the first place.