There are ways to prepare for flu season that are both easy on your budget, and helpful to your immune system. We've outlined our top tips.
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 are both 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 cost $50 or more, 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, 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, as long as 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.
Practice healthy habits.
There are some things you can do that don’t require a prescription or medication — plus, they can be pretty effective. Taking a proactive approach to your health can do wonders for your immune system, during flu season and beyond.
- Aim to get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Your body goes into repair mode when you sleep, and this can help build your immune system and fight off infections.
- Eat clean, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains. Nutrients are key to fighting off illnesses. (Plus, you’ll feel better overall!)
- Move your body for at least 30 minutes a day. From a low-impact yoga practice or a high-intensity weightlifting session, regular movement can reduce inflammation and stress, and improve overall health.
- Drink water — and lots of It. Try to drink 8-ounce glasses of water eight times a day.
Take a look at what’s in your medicine cabinet.
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:
- 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.
- Remember that if you have a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA), you can use these dollars to pay for medications, some healthcare supplies, and vaccines. For a list of the most common IRS-qualified medical expenses, click here.
Do your part to stop the spread of germs.
If there’s one thing we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that our actions can have a big impact on those around us. That means taking precautionary measures to stop the spread of germs for both yourself and others.
- 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 if you’re feeling under the weather. (Six feet of distance, ideally.)
- 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.
- If you have to be in public, remember that the flu is transmitted by respiratory droplets. If you feel a cough of sneeze coming on, always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or to prevent the spread of germs.
It all comes down to following the golden rule — treat others how you would like to be treated. You wouldn’t want your co-worker (that you sit less than six feet away from) coming in sick or with a fever, and we can guess they probably wouldn’t want that, either.
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‘s 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 (and healthier) way. Now go on — enjoy all of your cold weather favorites!