COVID-19 or the flu? How to tell the symptoms apart

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 2:06 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The summer months are coming to an end next week. This means flu season is approaching as we enter the fall and winter months.

”We’re seeing now is that flu season is much more elongated, and runs several more months,” said Scott Lockard, Public Health Director for the Kentucky River District Public Health Department.

The health district is already seeing flu cases this year, Lockard adds the cases are much more than last year.

”We’re expecting a much more robust influenza season, people are not taking precautions as they did last year,” he said.

Mask wearing and other practices like handwashing helped lower flu cases last year.

”There was very little travel going on,” he said. “Most of our economy was shut down, people were staying home, people were masking when they were out in public.”

How do you know if you have COVID-19 or the flu? Lockard said both often have similar symptoms like body aches and headaches but one difference is the loss of taste and smell.

”You should get tested for COVID as well influenza to determine the proper course of treatment,” he said.

Someone with the flu will notice symptoms much quicker than someone with COVID, which health leaders said symptoms can take up to weeks to show. Lockard said the best prevention is a vaccine.

”The flu vaccine is what is called a quadrivalent vaccine,” he said. “So it is prepared for 4 strains of influenza this year.”

Health leaders said the earlier you get your flu shot is better as hospitals are having a hard time keeping up with COVID patients.

”If you are severely ill with the flu,” he added. “There may not be hospitals beds available for you because of the capacity of our hospitals.”

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