FAQs About the Flu and Covid-19

1) How are the flu and Covid-19 virus similar?
  • The flu and Covid-19 are both considered to be respiratory infections caused by a virus.
  • The symptoms experienced by an individual infected with either the flu or Covid-19 may be similar (cough, runny nose, fever, diarrhea/vomitting).
  • The infection by both viruses can lead to further complications, commonly pneumonia (people sick with either the flu or Covid-19 are at a higher risk to develop complications because their immune system is already weakened).
  • When a person is infected with either one of these viruses, the lungs/respiratory system are impacted.
  • Both the flu and Covid-19 are contagious, which increases the risk of one person infecting another.
  • People can get infected by either breathing in particles, or by touching their face (mouth, nose) after coming in contact with an infected surface (such as doorknob, buttons, etc.).
  • Both viruses can be prevented in majority of cases by washing hands and getting vaccinated. Face masks and physical distancing can further help prevent illness.
  • Individuals can get very ill from both viruses.
  • Both illnesses can be treated with medication and other interventions (hospitalization, use of ventilator in severe cases), as well as important symptom management techniques (rest, increased fluid intake, pain relivers, etc.).
2) How are the flu and Covid-19 virus different?
  • The flu and Covid-19 are caused by different types of viruses (The Influenza virus is responsible for the flu, and coronavirus is responsible for the Covid-19 disease).
  • There is a lot of data available on the influenza virus since it has been around for a long time. Covid-19, on the other hand, is new, and information about the virus is continuously evolving.
  • The rate of people dying from Covid-19 is estimated to be 10 times higher than flu-related deaths.
  • Some symptoms are more commonly associated with Covid-19, including loss of taste or smell, and in some cases, headaches.
  • Many individuals who are infected with coronavirus may be asymptomatic, which means they are infected without showing any symptoms. People who have the flu usually have some symptoms.
3) What can I do to protect myself from the flu and Covid-19?
  • Focus on maintaining your health. It’s easier said than done, but healthy diet, physical activity, rest and relaxation/coping with stress all play a role in keeping our immune system healthy and increase our body’s ability to fight infection when we get ill.
  • Keep others safe. If you do not feel well, stay home. Postpone social activities. Take time to get well.
  • Clean all surfaces. Wash your hands frequently, disinfect surfaces, and use hand sanitizer when soap is not available.
  • Book an appointment to get your vaccine. Get the flu and Covid-19 vaccines. People who are 65+, those with underlying chronic conditions, and pregnant women are all at a higher risk for getting sick from Covid-19 and the flu. Therefore, it is important that these groups get vaccinated. Speak to your health care provider if you have any concerns, or questions.
4) When should I go to the Emergency, or call 911/seek immediate help?
If you have any severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, pain or tightness in your chest, confusion, or any other serious symptoms, seek help right away. If in doubt, it is better to see a health care provider as soon as possible.
5) When should I get vaccinated?
Covid-19: get your vaccine as soon as possible.
Flu: usually offered in the fall time, between September-November. The sooner you get the flu vaccine, the better it is to keep you protected from new strains of the virus early on. The high dose vaccine is the best option for older adults 65+.
6) Why it is important to get vaccinated? Vaccines are effective in preventing serious illnesses, complications, hospitalization and death.
7) Are vaccines safe? Studies show that vaccines are safe. If you have questions about the safety or efficacy of vaccination, speak to your doctor.
Johns Hopkins Medicine (2021). Covid-19 vs. the Flu. by Lisa Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H.
Alberta Health Services (2021). Covid-19 Symptoms in Comparison to the Flu and the Common Cold. Original source: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.