Flu Prevention During COVID-19
Fall and winter months bring the flu season. Here is what you need to know to help protect you and your family from the flu and COVID-19.
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.
COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
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 and public health resources.
Can I have flu and COVID-19 at the same time?
Yes. It is possible to have flu (as well as other respiratory illnesses) and COVID-19 at the same time. 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.
Does a flu vaccination increase your risk of getting COVID-19?
There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccination increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19. You may have heard about a study that reported an association between flu vaccination and risk of four commonly circulating seasonal coronaviruses, but not the one that causes COVID-19. This report was later found to be incorrect.
How can I safely get a flu vaccine if COVID-19 is spreading in my community?
Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. To protect your health when getting a flu vaccine, follow CDC’s recommendations for running essential errands and doctor visits. Continue to take everyday preventive actions. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or health department if they are following CDC’s vaccination pandemic guidance. Any vaccination location following CDC’s guidance should be a safe place for you to get a flu vaccine.