Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu vaccination this year will be more important than ever, not only to reduce individual risk from the flu, but to help prevent community spread and conserve potentially scarce healthcare resources.
As a resource for important information about flu vaccinations, MCW physicians and scientists have provided answers to frequently asked questions that are backed by research and trustworthy sources.
Safe and convenient access to the flu vaccination is available through the many Froedtert & MCW locations throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Frequently Asked Questions
The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. The flu is caused by any variety of different types and strains of the influenza virus. Many of the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are the same, and both can be mild or severe, and even fatal..
Shared symptoms include:
- Fever or feeling feverish
- Chills or shivering
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
Symptoms of COVID-19 that are different from the flu can include complete or partial loss of taste or smell. While COVID-19 and the flu are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among specific populations and age groups.
Complications of COVID-19 may include long-term damage to organs (e.g. lungs, heart, kidneys, brain). Information continues to emerge regarding potential long-lasting effects.
Complications of the flu can include inflammation of the brain, heart or muscles, and multi-organ failure. Bacterial infections can sometimes occur following an infection.
Both viruses spread through respiratory droplets made when ill individuals cough, sneeze, talk or sing. These droplets can be transmitted through the air and can collect on surfaces.
Both are treated by addressing symptoms. Severe cases of either may require hospitalization and extreme cases may require ventilation. Antiviral medications may shorten the duration of COVID-19. FDA-approved influenza antivirals treat severe cases.
Both can be prevented by wearing masks, maintaining hand hygiene, staying home when sick, physical distancing, and limiting contact with sick individuals.
There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases your risk of getting COVID-19.
The flu vaccine does not prevent COVID-19.
Flu vaccines help with the prevention and spread of influenza as well as reduce hospitalizations and the duration or severity of viral infections. People are encouraged to get vaccinated every year. If more than 40% of Wisconsinites received the vaccine each year, communities would see less transmission and fewer serious complications.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses. They only work against bacterial infections.
According to a new American Academy of Pediatrics statement, influenza vaccination is recommended for those 6 months and older without underlying health conditions.
Children with COVID-19 can receive a vaccine after recovery. Children with nasal congestion should have the nasal spray version of the vaccine after congestion has cleared.
Yes. Health and safety measures should be in place including practitioners wearing a face mask, clean gloves and eye protection. Gowns are not required.
Yes, it possible to test positive for the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
With the flu, a person can develop symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection. With COVID-19, a person typically develops symptoms 5 days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after.
While still under investigation, a person with COVID-19 may be contagious longer than if they had the flu. It is possible to be contagious for about 2 days before experiencing symptoms and individuals can remain contagious for at least 10 days after symptoms appear. If someone has no symptoms or symptoms go away, they may still be contagious for at least 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
Most people with the flu are contagious for about 1 day before they show symptoms. Older children and adults appear to be most contagious during the initial 3-4 days of their illness and stay contagious for approximately 7 days. Infants and immunocompromised individuals can be contagious for even longer than a week.
(Sources: cdc.gov, FDA.gov, Johns Hopkins Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP))