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Flu or COVID-19

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 ages 6 months and up. In addition, this flu season, COVID vaccines are available 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 eligible.

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

  1. Fever or feeling feverish/having chills

  2. Cough

  3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  4. Fatigue (tiredness)

  5. Sore throat

  6. Runny or stuffy nose

  7. Muscle pain or body aches

  8. Headache

  9. Vomiting and diarrhea

  10. 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.

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.

The Kids first Pediatrics team will be offering flu shots for healthy individuals in Raleigh in Clayton by appointment.Call our office for more information.

Raleigh Kids First: 23 Sunnybrook Road Suite 116


Clayton Kids First: 400 Athletic Club Blvd. Unit 101


More Information

*This article is informational but is not a substitute for medical attention or information from your provider.


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