COVID-19 and the flu

Similar symptoms, different viruses

COVID-19 and influenza (flu) are caused by different viruses, but both cause respiratory illness.

The symptoms are often very similar.

You can get both illnesses at the same time, which could make you very sick.

To avoid this, get the flu vaccination when it is next available.


The key symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath.

The most common symptoms of influenza are fever, cough, sore throat or runny nose, body aches, feeling tired and fatigued, and loss of appetite.

For more information about getting tested for COVID-19, visit When to get tested page.


Both viruses are transmitted in the same way.

This means that the same public health measures are important to prevent both infections.

Visit the Protect yourself page for more information.


An important difference between the two viruses is the incubation time – the time from infection to appearance of symptoms.

The flu typically has a shorter incubation period than COVID-19.

While both viruses can cause severe disease, it appears severe and critical disease occurs more commonly in people with COVID-19.

The flu vaccine and COVID-19

The flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19.

If you get the flu, your immunity may be lowered, making you susceptible to other illnesses like COVID-19.

It is highly recommended that you get vaccinated each year to prevent the flu.

For more information on the flu and getting vaccinated, visit the ACT Health website.

For information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the COVID-19 vaccine page.

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: March 19 2021