We want to #GatherNorthGA again for festivals and holidays without the worry of getting COVID-19 and flu. We must keep our families and ourselves safe to get back to our normal activities.
Protect yourself by getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 And the flu today!
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Differences between Flu and COVID-19
From what we know, COVID-19 spreads more easily than flu. Efforts to maximize the proportion of people in the United States who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines remain critical to reducing the risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death.
You cannot tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 by the symptoms alone because they have some of the same signs and symptoms. Specific testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis. Having a medical professional administer a specific test that detects both flu and COVID-19 allows you to get diagnosed and treated for the specific virus you have more quickly.
Similarities between 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 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) first identified in 2019. Flu is caused by infection with a flu virus (influenza viruses).
Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Diarrhea (more frequent in children with flu, but can occur in any age with COVID-19)
- Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19
How Flu and COVID-19 are spread
Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person to person between people who are near or in close contact with one another. Both are spread mainly by large and small particles containing virus that are expelled when people with the illness (COVID-19 or flu) cough, sneeze, or talk. These particles can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and possibly be inhaled into the respiratory tract. In some circumstances, such as indoor settings with poor ventilation, small particles containing virus might be spread longer distances and cause infections.
Most spread is by inhalation of large and small droplets; however, it may be possible that a person can get infected by touching another person (for example, shaking hands with someone who has the virus on their hands), or by touching a surface or object that has virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
While the virus that causes COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, the virus that causes COVID-19 is generally more contagious than flu viruses. Also, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than flu. This means the virus that causes COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continual spreading among people as time progresses. The virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to others by people before they begin showing symptoms, by people with very mild symptoms, and by people who never experience symptoms (asymptomatic people).
Flu vs COVID-19
|Topic||Similarities||Flu Only||COVID Only|
|Incubation Periods||One or more days can pass from when a person becomes infected to when they start to experience symptoms of illness. It is possible to have either without showing signs of symptoms.||Typically, a person may experience symptoms anywhere from one to four days after infection.||Typically, a person may experience symptoms anywhere from two to five days, and up to 14 days after infection.|
|Vaccines||Vaccines for COVID-19 and flu are approved or authorized for emergency use (EUA) by FDA.||There are multiple FDA-licensed influenza vaccines produced annually to protect against the four flu viruses that scientists expect will circulate each year.||Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved for use in the United States to help prevent COVID-19.|
|Person at High Risk||Older adults, people with certain underlying medical conditions (including infants and children), people who are pregnant||Less severe but may still cause hospitalization.||More severe including potential to develop post-COVID Conditions or multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS)|