How to Get a Flu Shot at Target

Here's everything you need to know about Target's flu shots.

Getting a flu shot at Target

This year the flu and Covid-19 are circulating simultaneously, which makes the flu shot even more imperative.

“Influenza is a respiratory virus, like Covid-19,” says Beth Oller, MD, a practicing family physician in Stockton, Kansas. “We need to do everything we can this year to minimize having outbreaks of both viruses occurring at the same time.” If your immune system is already under stress from one virus, you may be more susceptible to the other virus. This could potentially produce a more severe infection, she adds.

Your best protection right now is to get a flu shot as soon as you can. Flu season is underway, though there are still several months ahead. Target, through CVS and MinuteClinic, is offering flu shots in a store-within-a-store format in all Target locations where pharmacy and clinic services are available. (Be prepared and know what to do at the first sign of the flu.)

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines are suitable for almost everyone except children under the age of 6 months, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They’re especially important for people who are at a higher risk of complications from the virus, such as seniors 65 and over, pregnant women, children between 6 months and 5 years old, and those with certain chronic health conditions.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist before getting a vaccine if you’re allergic to eggs (some vaccines are grown in eggs), if you’ve had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or have any current flu symptoms. You may need a specific type of vaccine, or you may need to delay your appointment. (Guillain-barré syndrome is a rare type of paralysis that can be triggered by an infection.)

Is the vaccine safe?

Yes, and time-tested. “Flu vaccines are very safe, and we can look at more than 50 years of flu vaccine history and several hundred million people vaccinated over this time period as evidence,” says Dr. Oller.

Most people have no side effects at all, or only experience mild ones like a sore arm and temporary fever, muscle aches, headache, or fatigue, she adds. And this is actually a good sign—it means your immune system is working and will be ready if you encounter the actual flu virus. (Here’s how to deal with flu shot pain.)

Beware of flu myths. Science has proved that the flu shot can’t give you the flu. It also doesn’t cause autism or any other malady, despite continuing rumors to the contrary.

How effective is the vaccine?

The flu vaccine is usually 40 to 60 percent effective, says the CDC, although this depends on how well it matches the virus strains circulating in any given season. Because the influenza virus mutates, these strains change every year. We won’t know how effective this year’s vaccine is until we’re further into flu season.

Even if you do get sick, though, the vaccine helps ensure you won’t get severely ill. Which makes it less likely you’ll be one of the 140,000 to 810,000 people hospitalized by the flu every year, or one of the 12,000 to 61,000 who die.

What kinds of vaccines are available?

There is more than one flu shot as well as a nasal spray, though shots are much more common. This year, there are four standard-dose flu shots, which are approved for people 6 months of age and older. “This is the type of flu shot that most of us get,” says Dr. Oller.

There’s also a high-dose flu shot which creates a stronger immune response in adults 65 and over who need extra protection, she adds. The CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another.

Ninety-nine percent of this year’s vaccines are quadrivalent, which means they protect you against four different strains of the influenza virus. CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations at Target stores are offering both the standard quadrivalent vaccine as well as the higher dose one for seniors.

They’re also offering an egg-free version (Flublock Quadrivalent) for people who are allergic to eggs. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which is best for you.

target flu shot illustrationthehealthy.com, via corporate.target.com, Getty Images

How do I get a flu vaccine at Target?

To get a Target flu shot, visit any location with a CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic. You can either walk-in (check with individual stores to make sure this is an option) or make an appointment at the CVS website, on the CVS app, or by texting FLU to 287898. You can also fill out a consent form online.

Your confirmation email will contain a link you can use to check in once you get to the store. Most insurance plans, including Medicare Part B, cover the cost of flu vaccines.

Will I be safe from Covid-19?

All CVS Pharmacy locations, including those at Target stores, are following CDC Covid-19 prevention guidelines. You will complete a Covid-19 questionnaire via text, all staff and customers must wear masks, and all immunization areas are sanitized between patients. Someone will take your temperature when you first arrive.

If there is no Target store near you, flu shots are available at Costco, Walgreens, and Walmart, too.

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.