Under the Weather? Know the Difference Between Covid-19 and the Flu

Winter is coming, and so is the annual flu season. It might have been easy to forget about this seasonal virus, since Covid-19 has been the main focus in America for almost two years now, but it hasn’t gone anywhere, and experts are predicting a pretty severe flu season this year. So if you wake up one morning this winter with symptoms like a stuffy nose, fever, and cough, you’ll have to consider whether you might have a case of the flu or of Covid, since both are contagious respiratory illnesses that share similar symptoms. If you are feeling under the weather, it is important to differentiate the symptoms of these viruses, so you can get tested for Covid if need be, and get the proper treatment. 

The Difference Between the Flu Virus & the Covid Virus2 different colored viruses floating around

As stated earlier, the flu and Covid are both contagious respiratory viruses, but they are caused by different viruses. The flu is caused by the influenza virus, usually influenza A or influenza B, while  Covid-19 is caused by a coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2; this is a novel coronavirus, meaning it has not been seen in humans before now. Because our bodies were never exposed to this virus before 2019, we have not built any antibodies to fight it, which is why the outbreak of this virus has become a global pandemic. 

While the flu cannot turn into Covid, and Covid cannot turn into the flu because they are two different viruses, it is possible to be infected with both at the same time. It’s important to remember that both Covid and the flu can result in severe illness and complications, especially for older adults, people with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant people. Covid-19 can result in long-term damage to the heart, kidneys, brain, and lungs, and the flu can lead to complications such as inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissue, and can even lead to multi-organ failure. 

How Are These Viruses Spread?

Both the flu and Covid spread in similar ways: droplets of small virus particles from a sick person that are transmitted to another person through talking, coughing, sneezing, etc. You can also transfer the virus by touching a surface with germs on it and then touching your face, although most experts believe that Covid is mostly spread through respiratory droplets. Covid-19 spreads more easily than the flu and can cause more serious illness in some people. 

How Long Is the Incubation Period?

calendar up close
Flu symptoms can occur 1-4 days after infection, while Covid symptoms will probably appear around 5-14 days after.

It tends to take longer after infection for someone to experience symptoms of Covid than it does with the flu. If you are infected with the flu, you will most likely experience symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection, while if you are infected with Covid, your symptoms will probably appear around 5 days after infection; in some cases, symptoms will not appear until 14 days after infection. Symptoms will vary from person to person, so if you have fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, confusion, headache, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, it is important to get tested for Covid.

How Long Are You Contagious?

If you are infected with either Covid or the flu, it’s possible to spread these viruses before experiencing any symptoms. People with the flu are contagious for one day before they show symptoms; older children and adults appear to be most contagious during the initial 3 or 4 days of their illness, but remain contagious for a week. If you are infected with Covid, you could be contagious for a longer time than if you have the flu; it can also take longer  to show symptoms, and you could be contagious earlier than 1 day before symptoms begin.

Similarities & Differences Between Covid & Flu Symptoms


Many respiratory illnesses share similar symptoms: when bacteria or viruses get into your respiratory system, the whole system, including your airways, lungs, and blood vessels, is affected, resulting in similar symptoms for a head cold, the flu, and Covid. Some symptoms that both Covid-19 and the flu share include:

  • Fever of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain and body aches
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness or lack of energy) and weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting (more common in children than adults)
  • Diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

Both illnesses can result in pneumonia, and both can be asymptomatic, mild, severe, or even fatal, depending on the person. 

Differences In Symptoms

While both viruses often have similar symptoms, there are some key differences to help identify each. Specifically, the flu will usually come on suddenly and appear anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection, while Covid symptoms can be more gradual and can develop 2 days after you’ve been infected, or not show for up to 14 days after infection. You can also look for the following differences:caucasian woman wrapped in a scarf coughing

  • Type of cough– The flu will produce a mild, dry cough, while Covid’s is also dry, but more severe, and can leave you short of breath.
  • Unique symptoms– Covid will cause unique symptoms that are not as common with the flu, including shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, repeated shaking with chills, and new and sudden loss of taste or smell.

If you are wondering if you might have a common cold, the main difference between a cold and these other viruses is that a common cold will cause a phlegm or mucus-filled cough, while with Covid or the flu the cough is normally dry. 


The flu and Covid are treated differently, depending on your symptoms. There are oral antiviral medications available for the flu, but antivirals for Covid are still in the testing stages. If your illness is severe, you might need  to go to the hospital and possibly be put on a ventilator to help you breathe. 

There are vaccines available for both Covid and the flu, which can help prevent infection, or at least help lessen symptoms and usually prevent hospitalization. 

What To Do If You Experience Symptoms

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, there are a couple of steps that you should take, including:

  • Staying home– If you have a fever, it is important to stay home in order not to spread the virus, whether it is Covid or the flu. Even if you don’t have a fever but have other symptoms, try to refrain from going out.
  • Calling your doctor– You can call your doctor or Telehealth doctors, and notify them of your symptoms. Your doctor will write you a prescription to get tested for Covid, and schedule a testing appointment for you.
  • person with red shirt holding up covid testing kitGetting tested– If you don’t want to call your doctor,  you can schedule the testing yourself at any testing center or some drug stores. Some tests are completely free whether you have health insurance or not.
  • Seeking medical attention– If your symptoms do not go away or are severe, seek medical attention right away, whether at an urgent care or hospital.

Medicare services will cover testing and vaccinations for the flu and Covid-19 at no cost to you! These are just some of the services covered by Medicare, but it’s important to remember that not everything is covered. You will have out-of-pocket expenses, such as your Part B deductible and 20% Part B coinsurance, which can add up to a lot over the year, so it’s definitely worth looking into a Medicare Supplement Plan to save as much money as you can. Come to EZ and talk to one of our agents: we work with the top-rated companies in the nation and can compare plans in minutes for you at no cost. To get free instant quotes for plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar on the side, or to speak to a licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

4 Vaccines That Medicare Covers

When people think of the word vaccines, they often think of babies and young kids. While immunizations are important for children, they are just as important for seniors. Older adults should get vaccines in order to prevent diseases as they get older. Certain diseases can lead to complications in seniors, and possibly death. Luckily, Medicare offers many free preventive care services, including vaccines.

middle aged caucasian woman blowing her nose into a tissue.
Older adults are more at risk of dying from the flu than any other age group due to weaker immune systems.

1. Flu Vaccine

Influenza, also known as the flu, is responsible for many deaths every year. Older adults are more at risk of dying from the flu than any other age group due to weaker immune systems. It is especially important for people with asthma, diabetes, or heart disease to receive the flu shot. Studies have shown that vaccinated seniors reduced their risk of flu hospitalization by 50%. There is also a stronger shot that is high-dose, Fluzone High-Dose, if you require more protection. 

Medicare Part B covers one flu shot for seniors every fall/winter season.

2. Pneumonia Vaccine

Pneumococcal disease is another disease that seniors are at a higher risk for contracting. It causes severe infections of the bloodstream (bacteremia) and organs, and can result in pneumonia or meningitis. It kills almost 20,000 adults 65+ each year, so it is very important that you get vaccinated against it. It is recommended that people get two different types of vaccines, PCV13 and PPSV23, for more protection.

Medicare Part B covers both pneumococcal vaccines after the age of 65. PCV13 is given first, with the second PPSV23 recommended 6-12 months after.

needle going into a persons upper arm by a medical professional's ahnd with a glove on.
Medicare Part B covers the tetanus vaccine in specific cases.

3. Tetanus Vaccine

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is an infection that is not common in the U.S. If you contract tetanus, the bacteria gets under your skin, causing muscle spasms and affecting the muscles that control breathing. A person can get tetanus usually when traveling to a different country or from someone who has it.

Medicare Part B covers the tetanus vaccine in specific cases. For example, if  a person has diabetes or neuropathy, then they are at greater risk of getting tetanus due to the open sores that can occur. So, you are more likely to get 100% coverage for the shot, as long as the shot is administered as a treatment for either of these illnesses or an injury caused by them.

4. Hepatitis B Vaccine

Hepatitis B, or hep B, is a contagious virus that causes an infection of the liver. There are two types of Hepatitis B: Acute, which mimics the flu, and Chronic, which is a long-term condition with no symptoms that can cause extreme liver damage or even death. If a senior has hemophilia, diabetes, or other conditions that lower resistance to infection, then their risk of getting Hep B is increased.

If a doctor feels like a person is at high or even medium risk of contracting hep B, then Medicare will cover the vaccine.

syringe with 3 clear vials.

Getting vaccinated as you age is an important part of staying healthy. If you are at high risk for any of the diseases mentioned, then it would be smart to take advantage of the free vaccinations covered by Medicare. 

The Importance Of Seniors Getting The Flu Shot

Influenza is back again–and the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has sky-high estimates for this year. During the 2018-2019 flu season, up to 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died from the illness. Most of these fatalities were seniors, which is why it is more important than ever that seniors protect themselves against the flu.

Black and white picture of a woman in hospital bed with IV
Most cases of hospitalization and fatalities from the flu in 2018-2019 were seniors.

Because of these numbers, we see that seniors and caregivers are the most at-risk populations. If you want to reduce your risk, you must get a flu shot. It won’t guarantee complete protection, but it does significantly help the immune systems of high-risk individuals. Not only that, but even if you catch the flu, the shot can lessen your symptoms and reduce the chance of complications.

The Two Vaccines

There are several shots available, but there are two specific vaccines geared towards people 65 and older. These are Fluzone and Fluad.

  1. Fluzone High-Dose

    This 3-component flu vaccine contains four times the antigen of standard-dose influenza vaccines. The antigen is the “active ingredient,” so to speak, that helps your body build protection from the virus. The higher dose is meant to give older adults a better immune response. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that the high-dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu than the standard dose.
  2.  Fluad

    A 2012 Canadian observational study showed that Fluad was 63% more effective than a regular flu shot. It was made available in the U.S. in 2016. This 3-component vaccine contains an ingredient named adjuvant MF59. MF59 is an oil-in-water mixture of squalene (a naturally occurring substance found in humans, plants, and animals). MF59 is inserted into the vaccine in order to promote a better immune response. 

In the past, it was warned that people with an egg allergy should avoid the vaccines due to the tiny amounts of egg proteins in them. However, current research suggests that the shot is safe for people with egg allergies.

William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine says “It was long thought that it might be due to the eggs, but in the last 10 years, there have been a number of studies by allergists that have shown that the traces of egg protein in flu vaccine are not the cause of these allergic reactions.”

A person sitting down getting a shot in their upper arm.
Studies have shown that vaccinated seniors reduced their risk of flu hospitalization by 50%. 

The flu virus has no specific target when it attacks. However, a senior has a far greater risk of serious complications, hospitalization, and even death from the virus. It is better for a senior to be safe and have protection than possibly contracting a fatal bacteria.

All the vaccine does is boost the immune system, which weakens as a person ages. Studies have shown that vaccinated seniors reduced their risk of flu hospitalization by 50%. 

The vaccines are free under Medicare, so no coinsurance or copayment is needed. You get protection from the virus, a stronger immune system, and if you do contract it, a reduced chance of complications–all for free! Take the necessary precautions by washing your hands often, avoiding someone who is sick, and getting the vaccine. It might just save your life.

Flu Season Is Here, Should You Get The Shot?

As the colder months approach, viruses and sickness become prevalent and inevitable. One particular virus, influenza, also known as the flu, arises during these months. It is typically known as flu season. The flu is a respiratory infection that can cause complications, especially to young children, and seniors. This virus adapts to the flu vaccines that are produced every year, which is why a new flu shot is created every year.  Knowing the pros and cons of the vaccine is important so you can determine if it is right for you and your family.

The flu has cold-like symptoms, but for some there are major complications.
The flu has cold-like symptoms, but can have major complications.

The flu shot is said to be effective against the flu illness by 40 to 60 percent of the time during flu season. It will work for some, and for some it will not. If you do receive the shot, and you still catch the flu, then the shot is said to at least reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Who Should Get It

The CDC states that people who should receive these vaccinations annually are those who will benefit from it most. Anyone from the age of 6 months and older are able to get the vaccination. If you are pregnant then the flu vaccine is important to avoid high risks from contracting the flu. Chronic medical conditions can increase your chances of the flu complications. Such chronic conditions include asthma, cancer, diabetes, obesity, kidney or liver disease, and COPD.

Who Should Not Get It

If you are allergic to eggs, then it would be wise not to get the flu shot. Most of the vaccines contain a small amount of egg protein in them. Also if you had a bad reaction to the flu vaccine before, then you should not get it again.

Why Do You Have To Get One Every Year?

Doctors encourage people to get the flu shot every year because the virus evolve quickly. Not only that, but if you receive the shot one year, the antibodies your body produces decline over time. So by the next year, those antibodies will not be able to fight the virus, which is why they advise you to get another shot.

The flu shot can protect you from getting influenza
The flu shot can protect you from getting influenza during flu season.

A lot of people think that once you receive the flu vaccine, that it will give you the flu. This is not true, but you can develop flu-like symptoms because your body’s reaction to it. It takes about 2 weeks for the shot to take effect so in that time frame, you may still catch the flu virus. And although the CDC suggests older people to get the shot, studies have shown different cases. Older people with weaker immune systems will have a lower protective immune response after the vaccine. A weakened immune system will increase the odds of getting the flu.

A record breaking number of kids died in the U.S. from the flu this year, a total of 110. As the season approaches, it is dire to either decide to give the vaccine to your family, or seek other ways to prevent it. Once a person catches the flu, monitor them, and take them to the doctor if symptoms do not improve.