FLU SEASON AND COVID-19
Educate your patients on the similarities and differences between these two viruses
What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. Here’s the best available information to share with your patients.
To learn more about COVID-19, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19).
To learn more about flu, visit Influenza (Flu).
For the upcoming flu season, flu
vaccination will be very important to
reduce flu because it can help reduce the
Overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the
population and thus lessen the resulting
burden on the healthcare system during
the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will there be flu along with COVID-19 in the winter?
While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the winter, the CDC believes it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.
Can I have flu and COVID-19 at the same time?
Yes. It is possible have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time. Health experts are still studying how common this can be.
Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19.
Is COVID-19 more dangerous than flu?
Flu and COVID-19 can both result in serious illness, including illness resulting in hospitalization or death. While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, at this time, it does seem as if COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza; however, it is too early to draw any conclusions from the current data. This may change as we learn more about the number of people who are infected who have mild illnesses.
Will a flu vaccine protect me against COVID-19?
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.
Why is it important for influenza (flu) vaccines to be given during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, have led to decreased use of routine preventive medical services, including immunization services. Ensuring that people continue or start getting routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting people and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks, including flu. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations, which further strain the healthcare system.
For the upcoming flu season, flu vaccination will be very important to reduce flu because it can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population and thus lessen the resulting burden on the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A flu vaccine may also provide several individual health benefits, including keeping people from getting sick with flu, reducing the severity of the illness and reducing the risk of a flu-associated hospitalization.
What is CDC doing to promote flu vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic?
To address the importance of influenza vaccination, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC will maximize flu vaccination by increasing availability of vaccine, including purchasing an additional 2 million doses of pediatric flu vaccine and 9.3 million doses of adult flu vaccine, by emphasizing the importance of flu vaccination for the entire flu season, and by conducting targeted communication outreach to specific groups who are at higher risk for complications from flu. These same groups are often at higher risk for COVID-19 too, so protecting them from influenza is important to decrease their risk of co-infection. Communication strategies for providers and the public will include:
- Educational outreach activities by CDC, including social media, press conferences, web page spotlights, radio media tours, op-eds, and other publications,
- A digital campaign to educate the general public and people with who are at increased risk from influenza and COVID-19 complications,
- Special educational efforts to inform the general population, people with underlying health conditions, and African American and Hispanic audiences about the importance of flu vaccination, and
- Updated vaccination websites for the public and providers that highlight the safety precautions being implemented in healthcare facilities during the pandemic.
Should a flu vaccine be given to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
- No. Vaccination should be deferred (postponed) for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, until they have met the criteria to discontinue their isolation. While mild illness is not a contraindication to flu vaccination, vaccination visits for these people should be postponed to avoid exposing healthcare personnel and other patients to the virus that causes COVID-19. When scheduling or confirming appointments for vaccination, patients should be instructed to notify the provider’s office or clinic in advance if they currently have or develop any symptoms of COVID-19.
- Additionally, a prior infection with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or flu does not protect someone from future flu infections. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year.
Will new flu viruses circulate this season?
Flu viruses are constantly changing so it’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. More information about how flu viruses change is available.
When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?
The timing of flu is difficult to predict and can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season.