Next week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, which has greater importance this year as the global pandemic continues and the DC Metro region experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases. Flu vaccinations can help reduce the burden on the health care system, which was experiencing record hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients last week in Virginia. If you haven’t already gotten a flu shot, you can find the nearest vaccination location on the national website vaccinefinder.org.
But what if you’re already starting to feel sick? Before going to work, you should check what your company’s COVID-19 safety protocols are. At Mister Kleen, employees who feel sick in any way, before or during work, are required to contact their supervisor before coming to work. The symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, and you may need to be tested to confirm what you have.
Below are answers from the CDC to some common questions about the two respiratory illnesses. Please note that the information is not a substitute for professional medical advice – you should always seek the advice of your doctor or qualified health provider for any medical condition.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE
Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but there are some key differences:
- COVID-19 seems to spread more easily.
- COVID-19 causes more serious illnesses in some people.
- People with COVID-19 can take longer to show symptoms and they can be contagious for longer.
- While there is a vaccine to protect against flu, COVID-19 vaccinations are undergoing clinical trials and have yet to be approved by the FDA.
Common symptoms for both include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea. One symptom of COVID-19 that distinguishes it from the flu is losing your sense of taste or smell.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL HELP
People can experience mild to severe cases of both illnesses. Warning signs for COVID-19 that should prompt you to seek emergency medical care include difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, and bluish lips or face. You should call 911 or call your local emergency facility and tell them you are seeking care for symptoms of COVID-19.
There are many warning signs for flu and they may differ between children and adults. Please click here for the CDC list of those symptoms.
CAN I HAVE BOTH AT THE SAME TIME
Yes, you can have COVID-19 and flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses at the same time. There are tests for influenza and COVID-19 that you can take to determine whether you have one or the other, or both. In addition, the CDC has created a test that can check for seasonal flu viruses and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But this test will only be used at public health labs so that the CDC can monitor national trends in flu and COVID-19 cases.
As a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities in the DC Metro region, Mister Kleen’s employees are on the front line of the fight against COVID-19. We take the safety and health of our team and our clients seriously, and provide continuous safety training related to COVID-19. We also highly encourage our employees to get their annual flu vaccinations, and we welcome National Influenza Vaccination Week as another opportunity to help spread that message.