Like any good budgeter, you probably go through your spending plan to cut costs when money is tight. And who isn’t feeling the pinch nowadays? With inflation and higher interest rates, everything costs just a tiny bit more this year.
Limiting your splurges and vacations can help you make ends meet — it’s a golden rule of budgeting for a reason, and it works most of the time. That is, until you’re confronted with the flu shot.
This annual vaccine is one of those essentials that you can easily overlook. But it might not be the right time to dodge the jab to save money.
Experts Are Already Calling This Flu Season the Worst in a Decade
Every week, the CDC releases the number of flu-related hospitalizations on record. By late October, the numbers were already higher than they have been in 13 years.
Not since the H1N1 swine flu pandemic have hospitalizations been this high.
Young children and people over 65 are the hardest hit this year, which is in keeping with past years. However, experts are concerned the rise in the flu-like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) will exacerbate this year’s flu season, putting pressure on an already overburdened healthcare system.
Include the Shot in Your Yearly Budget
Ideally, you’ll want to budget all year round for seasonal flu shots for the family. The earlier you set aside money for these jabs, the easier you’ll find it is to afford them.
By starting as soon as next January, you’ll need to set aside less than $5 per month per family member to afford the average $50 shot.
Put it on a Line of Credit
Budget hindsight is 20/20. What seems obvious now might not have been so clear six months ago. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t think to include the flu shot in your budget.
If you don’t have the savings for this vaccine, you can consider getting an online line of credit. This type of online personal loan works a lot like your credit card — it even comes with a minimum payment that gives you some breathing room while you come up with the money.
Sign up for the Vaccines for Children Program
Head online to check if your kids are eligible for the CDC’s Vaccines for Children Program (VFC). The VFC program provides free flu shots to children who aren’t covered by their parents’ insurance.
Visit a Low-Cost Pharmacy
The cost of shots varies from location to location depending on the vaccine and the pharmacy’s markup. You can save a lot of money simply by avoiding those pharmacies that charge the most.
Check out the GoodRx Flu Vaccine Program to find discounts and cross-reference the cost of national pharmacies. If you don’t see your local drugstore, give them a call to compare.
Getting the Shot Will Protect Your Family
A quick jab may be a challenging expense, but it can prepare your immune system for a tough flu season. It gives your body the tools it needs to fight off the biggest strain of influenza.
This means fevers, runny noses, and sore throats won’t disrupt your holidays. But more importantly, you won’t have to spend even more money with an expensive doctor’s visit.