Flu, COVID and other Upper Respiratory Illnesses

The upper respiratory tract is the nose and throat. Upper respiratory illnesses are caused by infectious or noninfectious agents that affect the upper respiratory tract. These illnesses include colds, influenza, and sinusitis (sinus infection). The most common symptoms of an upper respiratory illness are a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and congestion. These symptoms may last for days or weeks.

Flu and upper respiratory illnesses are viral infections that affect the airways and lungs. They cause symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, or congestion. Some people may also have headaches, body aches, chills or fatigue. The flu season usually occurs between October and May, with peak activity between December and February.

COVID is a type of illness that is not covered by the seasonal flu vaccine. The virus effects people of all ages, but most of the time it is mild. The symptoms for COVID are similar to those of the regular flu. The best way to prevent this illness is through vaccination against it, as well as other upper respiratory illnesses that may be around you.

COVID symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Flu symptoms include:

  • fever or feeling chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea

Flu Vaccine Information

  • CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months old get a flu shot each year.
  • People at high risk include those who are 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions.

The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu. However, it’s not 100% effective so you can still get the virus if you are exposed to someone who has it, even if you have been vaccinated. You also can’t tell who has or hasn’t been vaccinated by looking at them because some people with a mild illness from another virus may mistakenly believe they don’t need a vaccine when they really do.

COVID Vaccine Information

  • Updated boosters became available September 2, 2022.
  • CDC recommends everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines for their age group:
    • Children and teens ages 6 months–17 years
    • Adults ages 18 years and older
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against COVID-19.
  • If you recently had COVID-19, you may consider delaying your next vaccine dose (primary dose or booster) by 3 months from when your symptoms started or, if you had no symptoms, when you first received a positive test.
  • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines.
  • COVID-19 vaccine and booster recommendations may be updated as CDC continues to monitor the latest COVID-19 data.