Just imagine having COVID 19 and the flu simultaneously.

That could happen this flu season, says COVID 19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr with the Missoula City County Health Department, even though there were very few cases of the flu last winter.

“We know that we are still in the middle of this surge of COVID cases, but we are also going into flu season and the prediction so far coming out of the CDC and the World Health Organization is that we are going to see a flu season this year even though we didn't see one last year, and they are actually anticipating that it could be a fairly severe flu season and it is possible to get COVID and the flu at the same time,” said Farr.

Farr said both COVID and the flu are respiratory viruses and both can have similar symptoms at first, so families need to be especially aware of symptoms this winter.

“It's definitely hard to tell the two apart because the symptoms are very similar,” she said. “So if you have symptoms and you go get tested and your COVID test comes back negative, then you should see a healthcare provider and get tested for the flu. The big difference is while there is not anything that we can give you for COVID early in the disease so that it will make it shorter, there is medication that you can get from your healthcare provider if you catch it early enough if you have the flu, and it'll shorten the duration of symptoms.”

Farr repeated the similarities between COVID 19 and the flu.

“The flu and COVID are both viral illnesses and they are both viral respiratory illnesses,” she said. “That's why we want everybody to get protected from the flu (with the flu vaccine), so that if you do end up getting COVID at least you know that you're likely not going to get the flu and COVID at the same time.”

Farr said vaccinations for flu and COVID differ, especially for different ages.

“If you wanted to get a COVID vaccine, then you would have to be 12 or older,” she said. “The flu vaccine is available to everyone that's aged six months and older. They're different enough viruses that the flu vaccine really is only going to help keep them from getting the flu. But certainly the flu can affect people of all ages. And it tends to affect the younger people and older people much more severely than those of us that are kind of in the middle. So that is definitely one way that you can protect your child that maybe is too young to get a COVID vaccine is to get them vaccinated for the flu.”

Some flu symptoms may include fever or feeling feverish with chills, a cough or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

COVID-19 symptoms include all of the above, but may also include new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.

Consult your healthcare provider for any of these symptoms.

 

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