Does my child have flu or COVID-19?

Does my child have flu or COVID-19?
An annual flu shot is the single best way to prevent the flu, according to the CDC. But, a new poll shows 1 in 3 parents may not get their child vaccinated this year.

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - With flu season approaching, it’s important for parents to have all the facts regarding the difference in symptoms between it and COVID-19, as well as the reason why its encouraged to get a flu shot.

“Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses,” states the CDC website. “COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.”



Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • 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 Symptoms

  • Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.



For both COVID-19 and flu, 1 or more days can pass between a person becoming infected and when he or she starts to experience illness symptoms.


Typically, a person develops symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection.

Flu Symptoms


Typically, a person develops symptoms 5 days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection, and the time range can vary.


  • If a person has COVID-19, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu.



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

  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in lungs)
  • Sepsis
  • Cardiac injury (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)
  • Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, nervous system or diabetes)
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues
  • Secondary bacterial infections (i.e. infections that occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)



  • Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications, some of these complications are listed above.

Flu complications


Healthy children are more likely to experience complications from the flu than from COVID-19. That’s why experts are urging parents to get kids vaccinated this year, even if you haven’t done so in the past.

“You should get it no later than the end of October. If it’s available now, you should get it now, but don’t wait any beyond October,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The annual flu vaccine is FDA-licensed and is able to protect against 3 or 4 viruses that scientists predict to circulate each year. The reason why it’s more imperative to get the vaccine this year than in years past is due to the added pressure COVID-19 will have on already stressed medical care facilities.

RELATED: BR health officials urge everyone to get a flu shot this year to avoid dealing with two viruses at once

“When we vaccinate large populations of people for influenza, we reduce hospitalizations for influenza, as well as for heart attacks and strokes and diabetes,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

East Baton Rouge Parish residents can visit to find out where to receive a flu vaccine.

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