COVID-19 during flu season: What to know

Each year, we remind you to get your annual flu shot in the fall. Keeping up-to-date on all your vaccines is so important! But this year, we recognize that the landscape of viruses looks a lot different. Read on to learn more about how COVID-19 and influenza are alike, how they’re different, and what you can do to prevent both!

COVID-19 and influenza: Symptoms

Influenza and COVID-19 are both highly contagious respiratory illnesses, meaning they affect the lungs and other parts of your respiratory system. They are caused by different things, so having one does not necessarily mean you will get the other. However, it is possible to be infected with both at the same time. And once your immune system is compromised by one, it may make you more susceptible to the other. Both influenza and COVID-19 can be mild or severe and both can actually be fatal in certain cases.

Both viruses are spread in a similar way: through droplets or smaller particles in the air or on surfaces. People infected with either may not realize they’re sick for a few days and, during that time, can spread it to others unknowingly.

The symptoms shared by COVID-19 and the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Muscle pain and body aches
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of taste and smell

Symptoms can vary from person-to-person and the only real way to know which virus is plaguing you is by being tested.

COVID-19 and influenza: Treatment and prevention

Treatments for both conditions are similar—addressing symptoms and, in severe cases, hospitalization. Some antiviral medications may be prescribed or administered to shorten the duration of either illness.

Vaccination for COVID-19 is still in development, so the best way to prevent this virus is through normal hygiene such as hand-washing and coughing into your elbow, staying home when sick, and limiting contact with others — especially those who are or who have been infected. The CDC recommends additional measures such as wearing a mask in public and social distancing.

But the best way to prevent getting influenza at this time is still by getting the annual flu shot!

When you don’t receive the flu vaccine, you put yourself at risk of illness and serious complications related to the flu. But you can also put the health of others at risk.

That’s because some people, including those with chronic illnesses and those with compromised immune systems, are at an increased risk of developing the flu and of deadly complications. In some cases, those within these groups cannot be vaccinated, which makes it even more important that everyone around them be vaccinated.

So, when you get a flu shot, you aren’t just protecting yourself. You’re also helping protect those who are considered “highest risk” and may not be able to otherwise protect themselves.

Still need a flu shot? Talk to your primary care physician or visit one of our Erlanger Express Care locations throughout the region to protect yourself and your family this season!