The Cost of a Vaccine vs Getting Sick

By: Alere Staff

It’s time to start thinking about getting your flu shot for the 2015-2016 influenza season.  While it is impossible to predict what this year’s flu season will be like, most flu activity occurs between October and May. In the U.S., flu season usually peaks between December and February.

Among adults hospitalized with the flu during the 2013-2014 influenza season, heart disease was among the most commonly-occurring chronic condition; 37% of adults hospitalized with the flu during the 2013-2014 flu season had heart disease.Studies have shown that influenza is associated with an increase in heart attacks and stroke.1

When we compare the cost of getting a flu shot, to the cost of getting sick, we need to look at many factors. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccines, but you should check with your insurance company before getting your shot. 

The cost of getting sick can include:

  • Days missed from work.
  • Costs of urgent care and ER visits.
  • Costs of long term hospitalizations for more serious complications. 

One study showed the flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 season.2 Another study showed the vaccination was associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had a cardiac event in the past year.3,4,5 Flu vaccination also has been shown to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.6,7

In summary, flu shots can reduce your risk of flu-related complications and may also make your illness milder if you do get sick. Most importantly it can reduce the risk of more serious flu outcomes, like hospitalizations and deaths.

Interested in learning more? Check out these related articles:


  1. CDC. Flue and Heart Disease and Stroke. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014. Retrieved from website:
  2. Talbot, K. H., et al. Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccine for Preventing Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Hospitalizations in Adults, 2011-2012 Influenza Season. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2013. 56(12): 1774-1777. doi: 10.1093/cid/cit124. First published online: February 28, 2013. 
  3. Ciszewski, A. et al. Influenza Vaccination in Secondary Prevention from Coronary Ischaemic Events in Coronary Artery Disease: FLUCAD Study. European Heart Journal. 2008. June;29 (11):1350-8. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehm581. Epub 2008 Jan 10.
  4. Phrommintikul, A. et al. Influenza Vaccination Reduces Cardiovascular Events in Patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome. European Heart Journal. 2011 Jul;32(14):1730-5. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr004. Epub 2011 Feb 2.
  5. Udell, J.A. et al. Association Between Influenza Vaccination and Cardiovascular Outcomes in High-Risk Patients: A Meta-Analysis. The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2013 Oct 23;310(16):1711-20. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.279206.
  6. Colquhoun AJ, Nicholson KG , Botha JL, Raymond NT. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine in reducing hospital admissions in people with diabetes. Epidemiol Infect. 1997; 119(3):335-41.
  7. Nichol KL, Baken L, Nelson A. Relation between influenza vaccination and outpatient visits, hospitalization, and mortality in elderly persons with chronic lung disease. Ann Intern Med 1999; 130:397-403.