COVID-19 or Flu? Know Your Symptoms

As we continue to grapple with COVID-19 at the same time as flu season, we must do all that we can to reduce the spread of infection and illness. Mask wearing, social distancing, COVID-19 testing before or after exposure to crowds, remaining up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, and an annual flu shot have been proven to reduce the spread of illness.

If you are feeling under the weather and not sure whether it is flu or COVID-19, ACCESS can help you manage your health. 

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but there are some key differences in the symptoms, how quickly it spreads and what you can do to prevent illness. 

Preventing Flu and COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are the best defence against COVID-19. ACCESS offers the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and boosters for patients 6 months and older. Additionally, fu vaccines are safe, effective and offered at every ACCESS location. Find your local ACCESS health center location and schedule an appointment to get both vaccines today.

Know Your Symptoms

Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed below whereas COVID-19 has to potential to cause more serious illnesses in some people. Also, compared to people with flu, people infected with COVID-19 may take longer to show symptoms and may be contagious for longer periods of time.

Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (more frequent in children with flu, but can occur in any age with COVID-19)
  • Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19.

You cannot tell the difference between flu and COVID-19 by the symptoms alone. Testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis. To learn how to read your at-home rapid antigen test results, click here or ACCESS offers free PCR COVID-19 testing to anyone, but a telehealth appointment is required first. Call 1.800.836.7633 to schedule a telehealth visit with one of our ACCESS providers today or visit our COVID-19 page to learn more.

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Additional Resources: 

Centers for Disease Prevention and Control 




As of November 13, 2022