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Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2021-2022 Season

What’s New for 2021-2022

Most people who get flu will recover on their own in a few days to two weeks, but some people will experience severe complications, requiring hospitalization. Secondary bacterial infections are more common with influenza than with COVID-19.

A few things are different for the 2021-2022 influenza (flu) season, including:

  1. The composition of flu vaccines has been updated.

  2. All flu vaccines will be quadrivalent (four component), meaning designed to protect against four different flu viruses. For more information: Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine | CDC.

  3. Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.

  4. More detailed guidance about the recommended timing of flu vaccination for some groups of people is available.

It’s best to be vaccinated before flu begins spreading in your community. September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. However, even if you are not able to get vaccinated until November or later, vaccination is still recommended because flu most commonly peaks in February and significant activity can continue into May.

What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

  1. Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus first identified in 2019, and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

  2. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu. However, as more people become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 should slow down. More information is available about COVID-19 vaccines and how well they work.

  3. Compared to flu, COVID-19 can cause more serious illnesses in some people. COVID-19 can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.

  4. Because some of the symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar, the difference between them cannot be made based on symptoms alone. Testing is needed to tell what the illness is and to confirm a diagnosis. People can be infected with both flu and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time and have symptoms of both influenza and COVID-19.

  5. While more is learned every day about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, there are still things, such as post-COVID conditions, that are unknown. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.

Similarities:

Both COVID-19 and Flu can result in complications, including:

  1. Pneumonia

  2. Respiratory failure

  3. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (fluid in the lungs)

  4. Sepsis (a life-threatening illness caused by the body’s extreme response to an infection)

  5. Cardiac injury (for example, heart attacks and stroke)

  6. Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)

  7. Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, or nervous system or diabetes)

  8. Inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues

  9. Secondary infections (bacterial or fungal infections that can occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)

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