Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. Children (more so than adults) may experience vomiting and diarrhea, too.
Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to determine whether you or a loved one is suffering from the SARS-CoV-2 virus or influenza because the symptoms are extremely similar. To further complicate matters, it’s also possible to have COVID-19 and flu infections at the same time. Right now, the best way to tell the difference between the two is that COVID-19 can lead to a change in or loss of taste or smell.
Because of similar symptoms and the fact that it’s possible to have more than one of these illnesses at the same time, it’s important to take any sickness very seriously right now. Anyone showing signs of flu or COVID should not leave home except to get medical care.
How to avoid the flu
The most effective way to prevent viral infections, like the flu, is to get vaccinated. The World Health Organization recommends annual flu vaccinations for:
- Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- Children 6 months to 5 years
- Children and adults 6 years and older
- Elderly individuals over 65 years
- Individuals with chronic medical conditions
- Healthcare workers
Flu vaccines are free for most health insurance plans because it’s a covered preventive care benefit provided by the Affordable Care Act. (Please check with your plan’s Evidence of Coverage to confirm coverage). Flu vaccines are safe, effective and widely available at many local pharmacies, drug stores, doctor offices and urgent care facilities. In addition to getting vaccinated, here are three additional ways you can avoid getting sick this flu season:
- Avoid close contact
By now we’re all familiar with the idea of physical distancing. Whether you’re sick or around people who may have the flu it’s a good idea to stay 6 feet away to avoid catching their germs.
- Cover your nose and mouth
If you do happen to visit public spaces, masks are highly encouraged to avoid spreading or contracting illnesses like flu, COVID or even the common cold this fall. Respiratory viruses spread mainly through droplets made when sick people cough, sneeze or talk.
- Wash your hands
Washing your hands often (or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) will help protect you from germs. Germs spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with the germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth. It’s also a good idea to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible when you’re in public spaces.
If you or your child is experiencing flu-like symptoms, please contact Getwell Urgent Care for medical advice. Symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are very similar, so it’s important to get a COVID viral rapid test to determine whether you are currently experiencing symptoms of a COVID infection or influenza.
Confirming your diagnosis will help our medical professionals quickly provide you with the most appropriate care and treatment. We welcome walk-in appointments 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Protect you and your family from potentially dangerous respiratory illnesses this fall. Flu shots and COVID vaccines are available at Getwell Urgent Care.