Seasonal Influenza (Flu)
Getting a flu vaccination is more important than ever as we enter the 2020-21 flu season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The flu is a contagious respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Those at high risk for serious flu complications include older people, young children, people with certain health conditions or compromised immune systems.
During October through May, the NC Division of Public Health provides weekly updates on the spread of respiratory diseases, including influenza and COVID-19, in North Carolina.
Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu symptoms are similar to COVID-19 and can include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above. COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illnesses in some people. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.
Learn more about the similarities and differences between the flu and COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The first and most important step in protecting you and your family from the flu virus is to get a flu vaccine each year, and it is more important than ever with this flu season coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact your health care provider or visit vaccinefinder.org to find a convenient location to get a flu vaccination near you.
What We Do
The Division of Public Health, part of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, works to promote and contribute to the highest possible level of health for the people of North Carolina.
Our entire statewide system of public health has dedicated professionals who carry out our mission every day through a wide range of essential programs and activities touching the lives of everyone in our state.
Disease prevention, health services and health promotion programs protect entire communities – not just individuals – from untoward outcomes such as communicable diseases, epidemics, and contaminated food and water. We work daily to reduce the impact of chronic and oral diseases.
Last Modified: October 14, 2020