Influenza and COVID-19

We all need to do everything possible to make a difference this flu season, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Safety precautions related to COVID-19 are in place, including social distancing and sanitizing at hospitals and clinics, temperature checks, and special scheduling. Cedar Community has been following federal, state, and local regulations to help keep our residents and team members in West Bend and Elkhart Lake healthy and safe.

Each year the influenza vaccine is reviewed and updated to help combat the current circulating flu viruses. Vaccines help protect against three or four viruses which researchers suggest are the most common. A flu shot helps reduce illness and hospitalization from the flu. This year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, medical experts say that it is even more important to be vigilant in helping reduce the spread of illness. Influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses but until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus, it is even more important to protect yourself against influenza by vaccinating. Influenza peaks between December and March. The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu or lessening the severity if you do get sick.

Adults age 65 and older should request a high-dose vaccine. It takes about two weeks for your immune system to develop protection after vaccination. The influenza vaccine CANNOT give you the flu and DOES NOT protect you from getting COVID-19. You can help prevent the spread of infection by getting a flu shot. Also, stay home when you are not feeling well, cover your cough and sneeze, wash your hands frequently, and maintain social distancing.

Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Both flu and COVID-19 can have varying degrees of symptoms from no symptoms (asymptomatic), to severe.

Flu symptoms
Influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever (not everyone will have a fever) or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

COVID-19 symptoms
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. COVID-19 symptoms may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.This list does not include all possible symptoms, and it is regularly updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they learn more.

Symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

Help protect yourself this flu season by getting the flu vaccine. Other helpful tips to stay healthy this season include:   

  • Take vitamin D. In a review of 25 studies, those with low vitamin D levels decreased their odds of respiratory infection by 42 percent by taking a supplement.
  • Get plenty of rest. Sleep is crucial to immune system health.
  • Turn on the humidifier. Viruses linger longer in dry air. The CDC found that setting a humidifier to 40 percent can cut the risk of infection by about a third.

Sources: CDC and AARP