There’s a lot the cold weather brings — cozy nights in, warm beverages, and... wait — is that tickle in your throat just allergies? Did someone turn the thermostat too low?
Like it or not, the chill in the air also means that flu season is on its way. But you don’t need to panic! There are a few simple and effective ways to prepare for flu season that both are easy on your budget, and helpful to your immune system. Read on for our top tips.
Get your flu shot — for free.
If you regularly get a flu shot (and even if you don’t), you don’t want to skip out on one this season. A flu shot can range from $0 to $50+, and it all depends on where you get your flu shot and what kind you receive. You can get a flu shot at your local pharmacy, your doctor’s office, and even sometimes through your city’s health department. If you’re not sure where to begin your search, vaccinefinder.org is a great place to start — you can search locations near you that have it available.
For those that have health insurance, either through a private plan, the Affordable Care Act, or Medicare Part B, flu shots are usually free or heavily discounted. Be sure to shop around to get the best deal and make an appointment beforehand. Something to keep in mind, too: while you can usually get a free flu shot at your doctor’s office, you might still have to pay for the office visit. (We’d recommend giving your insurance carrier a call just to be sure.)
If you don’t have insurance, here are some ways you can get your flu shot at a low cost — and sometimes even free:
If you’re a full-time college student, check your school’s health clinic. Most colleges offer free flu shots to students.
If you’re a military veteran, you can get a flu shot at your nearest Veterans Affairs health care facility, if you’re enrolled in health care with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Some county health departments offer free or discounted flu shots. (Tip: watch your local news station, check out your local newspaper, or search online!)
Find a discount coupon for the flu vaccine through Kasasa Care’s prescription savings program, powered by GoodRx.
Keep in mind: we’re still in a pandemic.
In other words, continue to be cautious. With spikes of COVID-19 and the flu overlapping, it could be an extreme burden on our health care system. And while it’s still too early to determine how this flu season will play out in an ongoing pandemic, keep diligently following CDC public health guidelines to protect yourself and those around you:
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds often, especially before eating food or touching your face, and after using the restroom, leaving a public place, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Avoid close contact with people that live outside your home. Keep about six feet of distance at all times.
Wear a mask in public settings or when you’re with people who don’t live in your household. (Remember to still keep your distance!)
Clean and disinfect the surfaces you use most on a daily basis, especially if you leave your home regularly.
Monitor your health and wellness daily. Feeling a little achy? It’s best to stay inside and physically distance from other members of your home. And if your symptoms develop further, follow CDC guidance.
It can be tricky to determine if your symptoms are a result of COVID-19 or the flu — they both can cause fever, stuffy nose, body aches, a cough, and shortness of breath. Both also spread similarly, mainly from person-to-person contact. However, the novel coronavirus is much more contagious than the flu, and the length of time you are contagious is longer, too. This is why taking the above precautionary measures (that can save you from a hefty medical bill) is all the more important!
Stay healthy. It’s possible on a budget.
The approaching season might seem overwhelming — and expensive. Here are some simple and effective tips that can help you prepare, while still keeping your budget in mind:
Keep your immune system strong by getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying hydrated.
Choose generic or store-brand medications if you need them. Some can cost as little as $4!
Stock up on essentials like tissues and cough drops ahead of time, so you’re not overbuying or paying extra for delivery when you’re not feeling your best.
Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer when you can’t.
If you get sick, don’t forget your prescription savings coupon!
Getting sick is a part of life. So, if you do find yourself feeling under the weather this season — no matter how many times you sang happy birthday while washing your hands — don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, give your body the rest and support it needs, whether that be with your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe or taking medication prescribed by your doctor. Just don’t forget your prescription savings coupon when you head to the pharmacy! Depending on the medication prescribed, you could save up to 80% on the retail price (and beat the price of your insurance) by using this tool. All you have to do is search the medication, find the best deal, then print out or email yourself the coupon. No signup or membership required.
With these tips in mind, you’re on your way to making it through flu season the budget-friendly way. Now go on and enjoy all of your cold weather favorites — but remember: if you leave your house, don’t forget your mask!