COVID-19 vs Influenza: Similarities and Differences

COVID-19 is sometimes inaccurately said to be “just another flu.”  While influenza and the coronavirus do share many of the same signs and symptoms, there are also many differences.

Common Symptoms Between Flu and COVID-19

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle or body aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children)

Differences Between Flu and COVID-19

  • While both respiratory diseases, they are caused by different viruses
  • Sometimes symptoms can take longer with the coronavirus to appear, up to 14 days while flu symptoms typically begin just one to two days after infection
  • Many people with coronavirus show no symptoms at all (asymptomatic)
  • The risk of complications due to the flu is higher for healthy children than it is for COVID-19.  However, the opposite is true for children and infants with underlying health conditions – they are at a much higher risk for complications due to coronavirus
  • While there are multiple vaccines for different strands of the flu, there are none for COVID-19 yet

Importance of Flu Vaccine

Getting a flu vaccine this year will not protect against COVID-19.  However, the vaccination will help reduce the risk of severe flu illness and hospitalization.  Minimizing the number of patients needing to be treated for influenza can play a huge role in making sure there’s enough room in the hospital to take care of patients stricken by the coronavirus.  It’s recommended that everyone over the age of six months get the flu vaccination.

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