The 2020 flu season is going to be a little different this year. Sniffles and sneezes were originally considered the first sign of the common cold or influenza. But now, those same symptoms could also be symptoms of COVID-19. Even as COVID-19 continues its onslaught around the country, it’s important to be aware of the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from October 2019 through April 2020, up to 62,000 people died from flu complications and up to 740,000 people were hospitalized.
Flu season usually begins in the fall and lasts until the end of April, sometimes running into the month of May. It is important to get vaccinated each year. The CDC says circulating flu viruses constantly change from year to year, and getting the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having the flu by 40 to 60%.
The CDC is currently recommending that everyone become vaccinated during September or October. The earlier the better before the flu starts to circulate widely. Vaccinating against the flu early allows time for the body to react and build immunity.
Both COVID -19 and flu can have varying degrees of symptoms, ranging from no symptoms to severe symptoms. Here are some of the common characteristics shared by COVID-19 and the flu:
• Fever or chills
• Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
• Runny/stuffy nose
One symptom of COVID-19 that does not occur with the flu is changes in or loss of taste or smell. COVID-19 symptoms appear to come on more gradually than those of the flu. The flu generally develops anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection. The CDC currently reports a 2-14-day incubation period for COVID-19.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu Vaccines Benefits. Retrieved: August 27, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID? Retrieved: August 27, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm