Your questions answered: COVID-19 and the Flu
COVID-19 is still in the spotlight, especially as new variants continue to emerge, but we’re also at the peak of flu and cold season–making it even harder to distinguish between COVID-19 and flu and cold symptoms.
One of the best ways to prevent the flu during flu and cold season is by getting the flu vaccine each year. What’s the difference between the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine? And is it safe to get them at the same time? We are here to answer these questions and more.
As we make our way through flu and cold season, it’s important to know how to identify both COVID-19 and flu and cold symptoms and how vaccines can help prevent the spread of these contagious viruses.
Let’s focus on the flu first. Unlike COVID-19, the influenza virus has existed for centuries. Flu is a respiratory illness that typically infects the nose, throat and/or lungs, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. For some, these symptoms can be deadly.
Flu season usually begins in October and ends in May, peaking between December and February. As mentioned above, one of the best ways to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. This includes adults as well as kids, who can have the flu vaccine as young as six months old.
In a year of constantly changing health news, one thing hasn’t changed – health experts still recommend getting a flu vaccine, especially now.
What Flu and COVID-19 Have in Common
Although influenza and COVID-19 are two different viruses, they both spread when people are in close contact with each other – something that happens more frequently when the weather is colder.
It’s very possible that the influenza virus and COVID-19 virus will spread in your community at the same time. And yes, some people may become infected with the flu and with COVID-19 at the same time.
The silver lining here: getting vaccinated for both the flu and COVID-19 can help reduce the spread of these viruses. As new variants of COVID-19 emerge, it’s more crucial than ever to get your flu vaccine. If more people are vaccinated for the flu, then fewer people will get sick or require flu-related hospitalization, leaving more resources available for COVID-19 patients.
Recent research also confirms the safety of the flu vaccine in relation to COVID-19 – in fact, getting a flu vaccine might even lower your risk of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus. The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine can work safely together to help keep you and your loved ones healthy.
COVID-19 and Flu and Cold Symptoms
As temperatures get colder and flu and cold symptoms become more common, it can be hard to tell what type of virus you are dealing with. What are flu symptoms vs. COVID-19? And what are cold symptoms vs. COVID-19?
COVID-19, the flu and even the common cold all have varying symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. Some symptoms that both the flu and COVID-19 viruses share include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain or body aches
Because so many of the flu symptoms vs. COVID-19 and cold symptoms vs. COVID-19 are similar, it can be difficult to diagnose someone based on their symptoms alone. We offer COVID-19 testing to help determine if you are infected with COVID-19 or simply need cold and flu treatment.
All About Antibodies
So, why is COVID-19 spreading so much faster and causing more fatalities than the flu? The most likely answer is antibodies.
With the flu, many people have at least some antibodies due to past exposure or past vaccines. But COVID-19 is a new virus, which means that most of us do not have any antibodies for it. It can also take longer for COVID-19 symptoms to show, and infected people may be contagious for longer as well.
Get Your Flu Vaccine or COVID-19 Test Today
If you need cold and flu treatment or a flu vaccine, we offer flu shots at all of our clinics, as well as flu tests. We also offer COVID-19 rapid testing to help you get answers sooner, especially in this season of gathering with family and friends. Take this opportunity now to protect yourself and the people you care about! Find a location near you.