Where an adult can get low cost vaccines

At LesliesList.org we get many emails asking where an adult can get low cost vaccines.

It appears the answer is… nowhere. They don’t exist– unless you are an established patient in one of the county-funded or low-cost clinics in your metropolitan area. However, you can save a little money by comparison shopping. I think your best bet is to try one of the walk-in clinic chains at CVS or Walgreens.

The Take Care Clinics (at Walgreens) website offers a list of vaccines available but I had to call the customer service number to get each price. The Minute Clinic (at CVS) website has a vaccine list with prices. I have also included this price list below for comparison convenience.

The websites offer additional information regarding age criteria for the vaccines. You should also know that some of the vaccines are actually a series, meaning that you need more than one shot to be completely vaccinated. Other shots require a consultation fee (i.e. a visit with the provider) that costs extra, too. Here’s a look at what the vaccines cost at the two clinic chains and at a private primary care clinic on the north side of Chicago. The private clinic prices are a cash-pay discounted price (a 25% reduction of the usual fee) for the vaccines.  It is important to note that while the private clinic prices might seem comparable, there are a couple of caveats: 1. These prices do NOT include administration costs that can run between $41- $25 per shot series. 2. You need to be an established patient of the clinic to get these shots, which is not the case for the Minute Clinics or Take Care Clinics.

Minute Clinic price list (CVS)

Flu (seasonal) $30
Hepatitis A (series of two shots) (adult): $117 per shot
Hepatitis B (series of three shots) (adult): $102 per shot
IPV (polio): $96
Meningitis: $147
MMR (measles, mumps, rubella): $116
PPSV (pneumonia): $77
TD (tetanus, diphtheria): $76
Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) $92
HPV: not available

Take Care Clinic price list (Walgreens)

 

Tdap (tetanus, diptheria, pertussis): $65
MMR (measles, mumps, rubella): $96
Hepatitis A: not offered
Hepatitis B (series of three shots): $80 per shot
Twinrix (combination of Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B; series of three shots): $96 per shot
Shingles (over 60 years old): $220
Flu : $30
Pneumonia: $64
HPV (series of three shots): 1st:  $215 (includes a $30 consultation fee), 2nd and 3rd shots: $185

Private primary care clinic discounted price list

Tdap: $48
Flu: $30
Hepatitis A (series of two shots): $94 per shot
Hepatitis B (series of three shots): $71 per shot
Twinrix (combination of Hepatitis A and B; series of three shots): $120 per shot
MMR: $68
HPV (series of three shots): $180 per shot

Leslie Ramirez is an internal medicine physician and founder of Leslie’s List, which provides information that enables all patients, but especially the uninsured and underinsured, to find more affordable medications and health care services.

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  • ninguem

    Price as shown, about the same in my own private clinic as well.

    No significant dollar difference to get the vaccines in my own office, compared to a retail clinic.

  • Leigh

    You might also like to try your local (city), county, or state health departments for low- or no-cost vaccinations. My husband and I got H1N1 vaccinations through the county–we are also in Illinois–in this fashion. Offhand, I don’t know if they do MMR, hep vaccinations, TDaP, or others. Good luck to those adults who are searching!

  • soloFP

    Vaccines are a sore point. The profit margin is very tight on most vaccines. I have one HMO that I lose $2 on shots. I charge less than Walgreens/CVS for some of the vaccines. The following prices include the vaccine administration fee. Without the administration fee, most insurance companies pay me less than the cost of the vaccine itself for the vaccine’s billing code.
    The $30 flu shot is not for preservative free, and Walgreens will charge $35 for the preservative free vaccine for pregnant patients. A local HMO pays me $14.50 for the same vaccine, and most insurance companies average $27 for the flu vaccine.
    Adult TDAP average reimbursement is $44, plain Td adult is $23, Hep A with the admin. charge averages $74, Hep B averages $71, IPV averages $32, Meningitis $128, MMR $90, Pneumovax $66, varicella booster $90, and HPV $128 for insured patients.
    I tried charging higher prices, but the insurance companies have a take it or leave it attitude. The local health department has each vaccine for $10, but each vaccine is subsidized by our taxes. My profit margin at the listed a prices is about $2-$5 a vaccine, with the exception of flu shots.
    Vaccines can save lives and save costs, but most health plans do not value vaccines. My vaccine prices are about 10% higher than the above prices to self paying patients, and the patients gripe about the costs. They do not understand that the profit margin is very low on these vaccines. Try giving 2-3 vaccines to a patient a deductible, such as TDAP, MMR, and Varicella booster. This will cost the patient around $224 with the deductible due and with my direct costs of around $215. This does not include the time to log the vaccines, store vaccines, and take the risk of throwing out expired vaccines. No other industry would provide products at such a low profit margin. Of note is that for the boosters for Hepatitis, you cannot charge an office visit or well visit cost, as this will be denied by the insurance companies.

  • MS-0

    In my county, the health department offers vaccines for $10 per VISIT. I needed a whole slew of shots as a med-student-to-be and, because my insurance wouldn’t cover them, I was deemed “under-insured” and therefore eligible for obtaining the vaccines with the health department. On my first visit I received six (SIX!) shots for the very affordable price of $10. And, the customer service was fabulous!

  • DocB

    great example of the problem with healthcare “business.”

    we have a socialized system of reimbursement with
    a Free market system of expenses.

    it’s miserable for any provider. the vaccine suppliers know EXACTLY how much money can be made from the vaccine. therefore, they easily squeeze the profit margin to Zero.

    there is NO supply and demand…. only the governments arbitrary assignment of “value” to the vaccine.

    i dont care which way we go, either make it ALL socialized or make it ALL free market…. either way would be a huge improvement to the current system.
    cost would go down either way (albeit the socialized will cost ALOT more in the long run.)

    dont kid yourself into thinking our healthcare system is free market.

    • ninguem

      That should be done, at least with the vaccines. It’s not something to insure against, like the old story of not buying car insurance for oil changes and windshield wipers.

      There’s a public interest in getting everyone vaccinated. Someone can’t afford a TV, it’s not my business. Someone doesn’t get vaccinated, it IS my business.

      In the day, we were lined up and mass-vaccinated in the schools. I know, I was in line.

      Maybe we need to do that again.

  • Outrider

    Just to put this in perspective: I charge $12 for a tetanus booster for a horse (administration fee included), and I make a profit on that. West Nile vaccine is much more expensive because it’s new and used only in horses, but most food animal vaccines are dirt cheap. All vaccine companies charge what the market will bear.

    • ninguem

      Thank the trial bar for the human vaccine.

      If your horse fails to get a medal at the horse show, do you sue the vaccine manufacturer?

      • Outrider

        If your million-dollar horse bound for the Olympics or the Kentucky Derby dies or is injured as a result of a vaccine (or, worse, vaccine failure), you bet you sue the vaccine manufacturer, and probably the veterinarian as well. Many of the manufacturers of the vaccines I use, however, pay for treatment of injured patients or vaccine failures at no cost to the owners.

        To repeat: vaccine manufacturers charge what the market will bear.

        • ninguem

          Or the horse doesn’t get into Harvard.

          Sorry, I had to say that…….

          Was the veterinary side affected by the junk science lawsuits, the Wakefield scandal and similar?

          If you haven’t heard about it, I envy you.

  • ninguem

    I’m all in favor of a free market. I don’t see free market with vaccines.

    They’re predictable. You don’t insure against predictable events. The same way you don’t buy car insurance for oil changes.

    If someone else can’t afford a TV, that’s their problem and does not concern me. Or they can get a used or cheaper TV. If people can’t afford a vaccine, that IS my problem. Given there’s a public health interest in getting everyone vaccinated…….herd immunity and all that…….fine. This is something that really should be run at the public health level.

    They lined us up at school for that new-fangled MMR vaccine in the day.

    My state just supplies them to everyone under age 19. Whatever is officially recommended by the public health agencies, is supplied. We just charge an administration fee.

    They might as well just extend them to everyone.

    The way it is now, it is being made exceedingly difficult for an independent office to do vaccines. The retail clinics can do them………well, the profitable low-risk ones, of course. Leave the expensive and risky ones for the doctors to do. Except the real effect is the doctors office stops doing ALL vaccines as a response.

    Well, one state where that was happening, I used to practice in a state that tried to supply the vaccine for Medicaid kids, not for insured kids. So I ended up with two supplies of vaccines, state and private.

    Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine costs a few hundred dollars. Ten pack of single-dose MMR over $600 on one quick look while posting this. Buying groups might shave some off that, but still very expensive. Now I can half-use the public stock, half-use the private stock, lose tons of money as you throw away unused expired vaccine.

    Result was I stopped doing vaccines. The PEDIATRICIANS stopped doing vaccines. Everything got sent to the health detartment.

  • Dave

    What about health departments. If I remember right I got my TDaP for 10 bucks from the Allegheny County Health Department. Most other common vaccines were cheap/subsidized too. Blood titers were 10-15 bucks a pop (had to get them to prove immunity to MMR for med school).

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