That coughing and wheezing you hear from the next office is a sign that it's flu season once again. That means it's time to get your flu shot. While nobody wants to get sick, getting influenza has some serious financial repercussions outside of a fever and running nose. Hearing what those costs entail should make you think twice about not being vaccinated this year. Here is a breakdown of the opportunity costs of getting the flu versus getting the proper vaccine.

Big Time Costs down the Chain
Most people are skeptical about getting an annual flu vaccine. After all, the vaccine is a cocktail of most likely influenza virus strains that will be most prevalent during the flu season. It's an educated calculation, so the vaccine is not a guarantee that you won't get the flu. Also, some people feel healthy and believe that their chance of contracting the flu is minimal. Then there are stories of how the flu shot gave someone the flu or how it simply does not work.

However, the financial costs of getting the virus should give consumers pause and rethink about being vaccinated. First, the average cost of getting a flu shot is $35 per person, which is often covered by health insurance, and is readily available from local health departments, physicians and drug stores such as Walgreens. Overall, this cost is trivial when compared to what contracting the flu could cost you.

First, roughly $87.1 billion is taken out of the U.S. economy each year due to influenza, with businesses feeling the brunt of $16.3 billion annually. While you may not feel bad about your place of work losing money, that $16 billion, especially in a shaky economy, can mean the difference between being employed and applying for welfare. Last year, Americans missed more than 70 million workdays due to the flu.

Then there are the direct costs to you the consumer. The average person with health insurance can expect to pay over $130 fighting the disease. Without insurance, someone could pay more than $100 to just to see a physician. While walk-in clinics can provide some price breaks on doctor visits, the cost is still high.

If the flu is caught early enough, a doctor may recommend an anti-viral medication like Tamiflu and Relenza. The medicines are only given within the first 48 hours of the flu. There is currently no generic version of Tamiflu, and for those without insurance its cost is over $100 per 10-day dose. Individuals may also incur the cost of over-the-counter (OTC) medication and remedies as well, depending on how severe the flu symptoms are. This includes items such as tissues, cough medications, Tylenol and other items needed to help relieve some of the severe symptoms of the virus. Depending on how sick you are, this can range anywhere from $5 to $80. About one-third of flu sufferers will spend between $250 and $1,000 on recovery efforts.

Furthermore, while you're spending money to fight the virus, you could also be losing income as well. Without an adequate sick time balance, that could mean a loss of some big wages. Overall, the average person loses $92 a year in wages due to the flu. This could even be more if you a need a hospital stay to fight the virus, which is also a possibility. Perhaps, the scariest cost statistic stemming from the flu is the cost of life. According to the Center of Disease Control, there are between 3,000 and 49,000 flu-associated deaths each year.

The Bottom Line
Don't think twice about getting your annual flu vaccine. It's a sound investment, both for your finances and your wellbeing. The paltry cost of getting the shot is nothing compared to the potential costs you could incur by contracting the virus.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    Your Worst Financial Mistakes And Why You Made Them

    No one intends to make a financial mistake, but an unexpected disaster or poor planning could leave you in financial distress.
  2. Professionals

    An Overview of Hybrid Long-Term Care Policies

    As the cost of managed care continues to rise a new breed of hybrid life insurance offers a reasonable level of protection at a far more affordable price.
  3. Savings

    10 Ways To Budget When You’re Broke

    Budgets are some of the best financial tools around – when planned properly and followed faithfully.
  4. Savings

    7 Ways to Trim Fat from Your Spending

    Check out these seven ways to cut the fat from your spending.
  5. Savings

    7 Millionaire Myths

    Here are seven millionaire myths and realities that reveal they don’t quite have it all.
  6. Budgeting

    How To Save Money When Moving

    Moving doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. Here are some great ways to save money on moving costs.
  7. Stock Analysis

    The 5 Best Dividend Stocks in the Healthcare Sector

    Learn about the top five dividend stocks of companies operating in the health care sector that generate substantial cash flows to afford high payouts.
  8. Investing News

    These 3 High-Quality Stocks Are Dividend Royalty

    Here are three resilient, dividend-paying companies that may mitigate some worry in an uncertain investing environment.
  9. Budgeting

    The Hard Way We Pay For Convenience

    Convenience is a luxury. However, any cost-conscious individual should be aware of these ridiculous ways we pay for convenience and how to avoid them.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 5 Health Mutual Funds

    Learn about the top five mutual funds that invest in stocks of companies that primarily operate in the health care sector of the United States.
  1. What role does the agency problem play in the modern Health Care industry?

    Agency problems vary from health care system to health care system, and not all economists agree on the degree and desirability ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!