Although many associate the flu with colder winter months, flu season officially begins at the start of October.
The Department of Public Health collects data on flu levels starting Oct. 1 until the end of May, according to Hayla Folden of District 4 Public Health.
Folden said people need to start making plans to get their flu shot as soon as it’s available.
She said people who are at higher risk for complications from the flu – including the elderly, young children, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying health conditions – are also more likely to have severe complications from COVID-19.
“It’s more important this year than ever to get the flu vaccine,” Folden said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a vaccine finder search engine where you can find locations to get a flu shot near you at www.vaccinefinder.org .
The CDC reports that it is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Both illnesses also have similar signs and symptoms.
The CDC reports that the following are symptoms of both COVID-19 and the flu:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
One of the differences between COVID-19 and the flu is that COVID-19 can cause a change or loss in taste or smell.
COVID-19 and the flu also share similarities in how they are spread, according to the CDC. Both illnesses can spread from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another, within a range of about 6 feet.
Both illnesses are mainly spread by droplets made when people with the illness, either COVID-19 or the flu, cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It may be possible that someone can be infected by physical human contact, or by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
Both the flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 may be spread to others before someone begins showing symptoms, has mild symptoms or who never develop symptoms, according to the CDC.
Although COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than the flu.
Also, the CDC reports that COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than the flu. This means the virus that causes COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continuous spreading among people as time progresses.
Since the flu and COVID-19 share many similar symptoms, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.
The CDC has developed a test that will check for A and B type seasonal flu viruses and SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Testing for these viruses at the same time will give public health officials information about how the flu and COVID-19 are spreading and what prevention steps should be taken.
The Food and Drug Administration has given the CDC an Emergency Use Authorization for the new double test.
For more information about COVID-19 and the flu, visit www.cdc.gov .