Can you have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

Coronavirus Updates

Utah (ABC4 News) — As fall nears and the fear of seasonal illness draws closer, some researchers project the coronavirus will trend upward in Utah.

In years past people have dreaded coming in contact with that year’s flu strand. This year, the fear of contracting coronavirus has been added to the mix, but can you have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time?

Because some of the symptoms associated with the flu and COVID-19 are similar, it can be hard to tell the difference between them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, yes, it is possible to have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

“It’s possible to get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, and it has happened. We didn’t see it in many cases like this because our flu season was ending just as COVID cases were rising. It’s a concern as we head into this season and that’s why it’s crucial for people to get their flu shots,” said Dr. Todd Vento, Infections Diseases Specialist at Intermountain Healthcare.

“The toughest part for clinicians is determining which respiratory virus the could patient have, and figuring out what tests need to be done. Intermountain has updated clinical algorithms to help our providers be able to recognize different infections so they know how to move forward with testing and treatment,” Dr. Todd Vento added.

According to the CDC, the flu and COVID-19 differ but also have common symptoms. They are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses.

The following symptoms about COVID-19 are as listed from the CDC:

Symptoms the flu and COVID-19 share:

  • 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

Many symptoms overlap and it’s likely that testing will be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Even though the two viruses share many characteristics, there are key differences between the two.

According to the CDC, flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including the common signs and symptoms listed above. COVID-19 signs and symptoms different from flu by causing a change in or loss of taste or smell.

Amid the expected oncoming flu season, State Epidemiologist, Dr. Dunn advised all Utahns to get a flu vaccine this season. “We are fortunate to actually have a flu vaccine, so it’s really important, now more than ever, to get vaccinated against the flu this fall,” Dr. Dunn stated in a press conference addressing the state. Dr. Dunn said it isn’t too early to get the flu vaccine.

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