Cheap shots: Get vaccinated for free

July 7, 2011: 10:56 AM ET
low-cost vaccinations

Don't miss out on free vaccines.

(Money magazine) -- Adults tend to miss vaccines that can help keep them healthy.

"For kids, there are age-related guidelines and school requirements," says Dr. Susan Rehm of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "For adults, we rely on health care providers and for patients to ask."

So ask. Starting this year, your insurer must cover 100% of the cost of 10 vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (certain existing plans are exempt, and your insurer may charge a fee if you go out of network). For a list, go to cdc.gov/vaccines.

No time for the doctor?

Walk-in retail clinics offer shots, too. Outside your doctor's office, however, you might get only partial reimbursement from your insurer (if any).

Four shots you may need

Influenza (seasonal flu)

Who needs it: All adults.

How often: Every year. Yet only 41% of adults get annual shots.

Avg. cost at retail clinic: $30

Pneumococcal (pneumonia, mennigitis)

Who needs it: Adults age 65 or older, smokers, those with asthma

How often: Once in your lifetime; four-fifths of those in at-risk groups miss out.

Avg. cost at retail clinic: $77

Tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria

Who needs it: All adults

How often: Full vaccine once, then a booster every 10 years; 49% of adults don't keep up to date.

Avg. cost at retail clinic: $92

Zoster (shingles)

Who needs it: Adults age 60 and older; only 10% have had the vaccine.

How often: Once

Avg. cost at retail clinic: $220 To top of page

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