Often free, flu shots can save billions for consumers, businesses

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Laura Ungar and Jayne O’Donnell – USA Today 

Published: November 16, 2015

Difficulty rating

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Credibility rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.


This article discusses some of the potential cost reduction from getting a flu
shot. Other than direct costs, consumers can save a great amount of money by
reducing the amount of work missed, and therefore taking into consideration
the opportunity cost of their actions.


Co-authors Laura Ungar and Jayne O’Donnell are both journalists focusing on
health policy, and other medical fields. Unger currently works as an editor and correspondent at Kaiser Health News in Missouri. O’Donnell remains a policy reporter at USA today.


● U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
● Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy services for CVS Health
● Vaccine Journal

Analysis of Potential Bias

This article is highly recommending flu shots and may be seen as biased as
they do not discuss any potential drawbacks. However, both authors specialize in reporting in medical-based fields and provide an adequate amount of sources to back up their argument. USA today is a slightly left leaning news source, but also
offers highly factual reporting.

Article Decryption

Getting the flu carries high economic costs for both an individual and their
employers. According to the CDC, each year 10.4 billion is spent on direct care for the flu in the U.S, with estimated lost earnings being an additional 16.3 billion. For caregivers, there are also costs when your child gets the flu. It costs around $300 for basic flu treatment for children, as well as the lost wages from missing work to care for them. Two-thirds of Americans report coming to work with flu symptoms, increasing the risk of infection for those around them. Somewhere between 5 and 20% of people in the U.S. get the flu every year, leading to thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.

Getting a flu shot is a way to avoid or at least minimize economic costs.
Immunizations for the flu are becoming more accessible with availability in
medical centers, pharmacies, and even some workplaces. They should be taken as
soon as possible as most flu shots take about 2 weeks for immunity to build.
Due to the affordable care act, flu shots should be free under all insurance
plans, but even for the uninsured they are an attainable $15-30 per year.
There are an increasing number of options for the flu shot as well, from the
high dose vaccine for seniors, the typical quadrivalent vaccine, and FluMist
or nasal spray as an option for those who would prefer not to get a shot.

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