Both the flu (influenza) and
COVID-19 will be spreading this fall and winter, especially among people who are not vaccinated. The two contagious respiratory viruses cause similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell them apart.
Fortunately, we have annual
vaccines to help prevent the flu for age 6 months and up. In addition, this flu season, we have COVID vaccines for anyone 12 years and older (and possibly soon for ages 5 and up). Make sure your child gets a flu shot—ideally by the end of October or sooner—and their COVID-19 shot as soon as they are
Is it COVID-19 or the flu?
Because some of the symptoms of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses are similar, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends
testing to confirm a diagnosis. People can be infected with both flu and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time and have symptoms of both influenza and COVID-19.
Generally, however, flu symptoms show up about 1 to 4 days after being exposed to a sick person. Typically, a person experiences COVID-19 symptoms about
5 days after being exposed to someone who is sick, but symptoms can appear 2 to 14 days after infection.
Common symptoms of BOTH Influenza and COVID-19
Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle pain or body aches
Vomiting and diarrhea
Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19
Why a flu shot is important
Children can get seriously ill from the flu, especially if they did not get a flu shot. Typically, about 80% of children who die from flu are not vaccinated. That's why children 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine before the start of the flu season each year.
The flu shot can be given to children who are otherwise healthy and also children with underlying medical conditions. Children with certain medical conditions (heart or lung disease, obesity, diabetes, or sickle cell disease for example) can be at risk of more severe illness from
both COVID-19 or flu.
Can the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine be given at the same time?
Yes, if your child is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, they can get it the same time they receive their flu shot this year.
Where is the best place to get the flu shot for my child?
The best place to get a flu shot is your pediatrician's office. During the visit, your child can get other vaccinations, if needed. Your child also can catch up on any routine care that you may have had to delay during the pandemic.
This flu season, you can choose between a flu shot and a nasal spray vaccine. Both protect against the four strains of the influenza virus (two A strains and two B strains) that are expected to cause most flu cases this season. Your pediatrician can help you decide which is best for your child.
Talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions about COVID-19 or the flu.