How is the vaccine different this year?
As always, this year’s shot was updated to include the influenza variants that are predicted to circulate in the United States. But there is a special vaccine for adults 65 years old and older with a higher dosage that has been updated to protect against four strains of influenza, rather than three as in previous years. A version of that high-dosage shot containing adjuvant, which boosts immune response, was also licensed.
How much does it cost?
For those with private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, the shot is typically free or comes with a low co-payment. Contact your insurer for more information.
If you don’t have coverage, it may be worth shopping around. At Walgreens, the uninsured cost is $40.99 for the quadrivalent shot, which is the most common variety, and $72.99 for the shot geared toward those 65 and older. At CVS and Rite Aid, it is a little cheaper: $39.99 for the seasonal vaccine, and $69.99 for the high-dose vaccine.
Could we see a repeat of past shortages?
It’s too early to know for sure, but that’s highly unlikely, Dr. Ikediobi said. This year, manufacturers project that they will deliver as many as 198 million flu shots, which is at least 15 percent more than the record number produced last year.
Still, it’s best not to procrastinate. “What I’m telling my patients every opportunity that I get is that we do not know what this season is going to look like,” Dr. Ikediobi said. “Find out now where you can get it without hesitation so that when the season starts in the next few weeks, you are in line and you’ve gotten yours.”
What about coronavirus precautions?
The C.D.C. has released safety guidelines for all health care providers. So as long as your provider is following these guidelines, it is safe to get your shot there. For example, Dr. Ban said, Walgreens has implemented rigorous cleaning protocols and is checking patients for symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Pharmacists who administer the shots wear both a face mask and a face shield, and patients are required to wear a mask.
How serious is the threat of a ‘twindemic’?
Medical experts don’t know. Some hope that the measures taken against the coronavirus could also slow the spread of influenza.