How to Get a Flu Shot at Publix

It's not just flu season right now. It's also flu shot season. Find out why you need a flu shot and how to get one at Publix.

Getting the Publix flu shot

The flu vaccine prevents about 6,300 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s reason enough to get the flu shot, but this year it’s even more important, given we’re already reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 can cause extreme illness and even death, so does influenza,” says Beth Oller, MD, a practicing family physician in Stockton, Kansas. “With our hospital systems already stressed to near breaking points, we need to minimize any further stress by preventing [flu] infections as much as possible,” she says.

The Covid-19 vaccine has only limited distribution for now, but the flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices, clinics, and retailers like Publix, which operates more than 1,000 pharmacies in seven states in the Southeast.

Publix Food Market exteriorJohn Greim/Getty Images

Is the vaccine effective?

In any given year, the flu vaccine is about 40 percent to 60 percent effective, if it matches the actual flu strains circulating. The flu mutates from season to season meaning that vaccines need to be updated to keep up. Vaccine developers base the season’s formula on strains that are circulating in the Southern Hemisphere.

It’s too early in this year’s flu season to know how well the vaccine is matched. Even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu 100 percent, it will make any illness much milder. That means fewer hospitalizations and deaths. (Beware of these deadly flu signs.)

Is the vaccine safe?

“Severe reactions to the influenza vaccine are extremely rare with only 0.2 cases per every million flu shots given,” says Dr. Oller. Most people only experience a little redness and swelling where the needle went in. Some people may also get a headache, slight fever, muscle aches, and nausea.

The flu vaccine does not cause the flu, nor does it cause autism, despite rumors to the contrary. (Make sure you know the flu myths doctors wish you’d stop believing.)

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Almost everyone over the age of six months is a candidate for the flu vaccine, says the CDC. People who are at a higher risk of complications from the flu should make it a priority. This includes individuals 65 and over, pregnant women, children under five, and those with certain chronic conditions like asthma.

If you’re allergic to eggs (20 percent of vaccines are grown in hen eggs) or another ingredient in the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before getting the vaccine. The same goes for anyone who has symptoms at the time of the shot or who has had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a neurological disorder where the nerves are attacked by the immune system. (Here’s what to do at the first sign of the flu.)

What kind of vaccines are available?

This year, there are four standard-dose flu shots available approved for people six months of age and older, says Dr. Oller. All are quadrivalent, meaning they cover four influenza strains. “This is the type of flu shot most of us get,” she adds.

Another high-dose flu shot meant to create a stronger immune response is for adults 65 and older who need more protection. This year Publix has low supplies of standard-dose flu shots but does have supplies of a shot for older adults.

Experts recommend you get a vaccination with any licensed, influenza vaccine that is appropriate for your age and health status. There’s no preference for one over another.

When is the best time to get a flu vaccine?

Early fall is the ideal time to get vaccinated to give your body time to develop the antibodies needed to protect you before the flu season hits, says Dr. Oller. Flu season in the Northern Hemisphere usually starts around October and peaks between December and February, though it can go later. “We still have several months of flu season ahead of us so getting vaccinated now is still very important,” says Dr. Oller. (Learn more about when flu season starts.)

Remember, it’s never too late for the flu shot.

How do I get a flu vaccine at Publix?

No appointment is needed and consent forms are available online for people who wish to get a flu shot at Publix. The chain has a limited supply of the vaccine for customers under the age of 65 and won’t be getting more once they run out. They have plenty of FLUAD vaccines (the high dose vaccine) and will continue to get supplies of the FLUAD vaccine for people aged 65 and over.

Flu shot prices at Publix vary by location. Typically, flu shot prices range from free to $50, depending on your location and whether or not you have health insurance. Check your local Publix to learn more about pricing for the flu vaccines available.

For a limited time, Publix is also offering a $10 gift card for anyone who gets the vaccine. However, health insurance is needed to qualify for the $10 gift card deal.

To protect against Covid-19, all Publix locations have been requiring face coverings for customers since July. Employees have been wearing them since April. The chain is also following CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the store, including pin pads.

Next, here’s how to tell the difference between Covid-19 symptoms vs flu symptoms.

Sources

Amanda Gardner
Amanda Gardner is a freelance health reporter whose stories have appeared in cnn.com, health.com, cnn.com, WebMD, HealthDay, Self Magazine, the New York Daily News, Teachers & Writers Magazine, the Foreign Service Journal, AmeriQuests (Vanderbilt University) and others. In 2009, she served as writer-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She is also a community artist and recipient or partner in five National Endowment for the Arts grants.