Teddy bear after getting a pretend injection

Common Injections at Urgent Care Clinics

Sep 05, 2023 Urgent Care Share:

Many people think urgent care clinics and steroid shots go hand-in-hand. And while steroid shots are helpful for many patients, they’re not the only injectable treatments available at an urgent care clinic.

In fact, you may be surprised to learn that there are several types of injections you can get from your urgent care doctor to help you feel better. Learn more in our helpful guide to these shots – and the reasons doctors give them in the first place.

Injection Basics

An injection, more commonly known as a shot, is a delivery method for medication or other liquids that uses a needle and a syringe. A provider pushes the substance from the syringe into the body, ensuring that it’s delivered directly to the desired tissue or into the bloodstream.

Medications that are injected bypass your digestive system, allowing them to be absorbed more quickly into your bloodstream. Injections can be given for a number of reasons and are used in a variety of medical applications.

The location of your injection is determined by the type of medication you’re receiving. Most of the injections you can get at an urgent care clinic are intramuscular injections and are delivered into your upper arm or your gluteal muscles. Other injections are given into the fatty tissue between your skin and muscle or even directly into the space between your joints.

Why Urgent Care Doctors Give Injections

Urgent care doctors don’t automatically reach for a shot. If they're offering you an injection, there’s a good medical reason. However, those reasons vary.

Speed and Effectiveness

Injections work faster and are more readily available to your body than medications that are taken orally. When you take a pill, it moves through your digestive tract to be broken down and delivered to your bloodstream. This process takes time, but a medicine that’s injected can get to work almost right away. And because the medicine isn’t broken down by your digestive tract or liver enzymes, more of the drug is available for your body to use.

When Oral Medications Aren't an Option

Sometimes, a patient just can’t take a medication by mouth. In this case, an injection is a great alternative. Patients with a severe sore throat or other swallowing difficulties may have trouble swallowing pills or liquids, while patients who are vomiting may not be able to keep medication in their stomach long enough for it to be absorbed. Similarly, diarrhea may also prevent absorption. In all of these cases, an injection ensures that the patient is still able to get the medicine they need without the burden of swallowing it.

Single Dose Medicines

While most oral medications are taken regularly over a series of days, there are times when only a single dose is needed. In this case, an injection is often the most appropriate treatment. For example, a patient who visits an urgent care clinic for a broken bone may need only one dose of injectable pain relief to manage their pain.

Patient Choice

Shots often get a bad reputation. However, some patients may prefer an injection rather than taking medication orally, especially if the dosing requires several pills or complicated dosing instructions. Oral steroids are effective, but to take them properly, you need to remember several pills and dosing instructions that are different every day. Other patients who already take a number of medications may find an additional prescription burdensome and would prefer an injectable option.

Types of Urgent Care Injections

You may be surprised to learn just how many types of injections are available at urgent care clinics. Injectable options vary across urgent care clinics, so ask your urgent care doctor about your options.

Anti-inflammatory Injections

Inflammation is a natural part of your body’s response to infection and injury. The signs of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. Inflammation is a natural process, but there are times when the pain and swelling can interfere with your daily life. In this case, an anti-inflammatory such as a steroid injection may be an appropriate treatment. Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are also available for pain relief.

Steroid shots are the most commonly used anti-inflammatory injection in urgent care clinics because they can be used in a number of applications.

  • Pain Relief: Steroids can be injected directly at the site of pain for localized pain relief. Steroid injections are used to treat tennis elbow, hip pain, shoulder pain, joint pain, and even bursitis.
  • Illnesses: Steroid shots can reduce inflammation due to an illness. If you have a severe cold or sinus infection, your sinuses become inflamed, making it difficult to breathe. A steroid injection can reduce inflammation and open up your sinus passages, making it easier for you to breathe.
  • Allergic Reactions: Steroids can help calm your body's allergic response. Steroids can help calm a breakout of hives and open airways due to allergies or an allergic reaction.

Steroid injections do have common side effects, and you should only get a limited number of these injections within a year. Let your doctor know if you have had a steroid shot recently for any reason.

NSAIDS are non-steroidal options for pain relief and are another injectable choice for relieving moderate-to-severe pain. NSAID injections such as Toradol are non-opioid and non-addictive medications that work quickly. They can also be a helpful choice for avoiding side effects that are common to NSAIDS like stomach upset or stomach ulcers. These injections are often used to treat acute pain from an injury or for severe sore throat.

Antibiotic Injections

Most patients with a bacterial infection take a course of prescription oral antibiotics without complications. But some patients with bacterial infections may require an injectable antibiotic, such as Ceftriaxone (Rocephin) or Penicillin. These injectable antibiotics work faster and achieve a higher concentration in the bloodstream than oral antibiotics, so an urgent care doctor may choose an injection for patients who have severe bacterial infections or infections that may be antibiotic-resistant. Injectable antibiotics are also a helpful option for patients with strep throat who may not be able to swallow an oral medication.

Antiemetic Injections

Most episodes of vomiting are caused by a viral infection and will resolve on their own. But if vomiting is particularly violent or accompanied by diarrhea, you may need medical intervention, since frequent vomiting comes with a risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

If you’ve been vomiting for more than two days, you’re unable to keep down even small amounts of clear liquids for 24 hours, or you see signs of dehydration at any point in a gastrointestinal illness, you should see your urgent care doctor for an injectable antiemetic. This medication can curb the vomiting long enough for you to be able to rehydrate.


Your primary care doctor usually helps you stay up-to-date on your vaccinations, but an urgent care clinic is a great option for convenient, walk-in vaccines. Most urgent care clinics offer a number of vaccines, including:

  • Flu Shots: The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu, but since the flu virus mutates, you need a new flu shot every year. You should get your flu shot before the flu starts to circulate in your area. While you can get your flu shot with your primary care doctor, you can get the flu shot without an appointment at urgent care.
  • Tetanus Shots: You need a tetanus booster every ten years, so if you’re due, you can easily get this at an urgent care clinic. However, if you visit an urgent care clinic with a cut or wound that’s been caused by something dirty, your urgent care doctor can also give you a tetanus booster at that time.
  • Routine Vaccines: If you don’t have a primary care doctor, an urgent care clinic is a great place to get caught up on the vaccines you need. Whether you need a routine vaccine such as the pneumococcal vaccine or the shingles vaccine, or you’re in need of vaccines for an upcoming trip, your urgent care clinic is a convenient choice. Call your urgent care clinic to be sure they offer the vaccine that you need.

Urgent care clinics may also offer allergy shots, IV infusions, B12 injections, and other injectable medications. Call the urgent care clinic near you if you’d like to learn more about their available injections.

At MedHelp urgent care clinics in Birmingham, our urgent care providers are committed to providing high-quality, individualized medical care to all of our patients. Our providers will always recommend the most appropriate treatment that meets your specific medical needs, which may include injectable medications.

Compassionate Urgent Care Near You

MedHelp urgent care clinics are staffed by experienced providers who are dedicated to individualized, patient-centric care. For treatment of your urgent medical needs, visit one of our Birmingham urgent care clinics today. No appointment is needed, and our clinics are open seven days a week with extended hours on weekends.