What’s the Difference between influenza and COVID-19?
As was the case last fall, influenza season is here when we are still fighting COVID-19. Almost three years after the start of the pandemic there still seems to be some confusion: what is the difference between flu and COVID-19?
The flu, or influenza, and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses caused by a virus. Both can spread to others. The flu affects thousands of Canadians each year during flu season, which typically runs from November to April. Like COVID-19, the effect on those who get influenza is varied –individuals can have no symptoms, can get mildly ill, or can get very sick and require hospitalization.
Flu symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19 and may appear one to four days after exposure to the influenza virus. Symptoms for both illnesses generally include fever, cough, muscle aches and pains. Other common symptoms include headache, chills, fatigue, loss of appetite, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose. The influenza virus generally does not affect the digestive system; however, some individuals, especially children, may experience diarrhea or nausea and vomiting.
Similar to COVID-19, there is a period where those infected with the influenza virus can spread it to others, typically starting one day before the first symptoms show until approximately five days after the first symptoms.
While COVID-19 and influenza do share some similarities, they are caused by different viruses; the flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19 nor will COVID-19 vaccination protect you from influenza.
“It is safe to get your flu and COVID shots together. Receiving a COVID-19 shot at the same time as your flu shot is completely optional; however, residents are encouraged to take advantage of the ability to do so to receive protection from both viruses,” says Dr. Tania Diener, Medical Health Officer for Regina and COVID-19 Immunization Co-Chief, for the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
This fall protect yourself and your loved ones by getting your flu shot and making sure you are up-to-date with your COVID-19 immunization.
Any resident aged six months and older is eligible to get the flu shot and COVID-19 immunization (primary series and booster shots). For more information about influenza or to book or find a vaccine clinic, visit 4flu.ca.