Coronavirus vs. Flu and Why You Should Get a Flu Shot During The Coronavirus Pandemic

October 19, 2020

man getting flu shot during COVID-19 Denver Health

With the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise in Denver for three consecutive weeks and new orders now in place to wear masks outside and limit gatherings to five people or less to help stop the spread of the virus, Denver Health is renewing its calls for everyone over the age of six months to get a flu shot.

What is a Twindemic?

Denver Health's providers are concerned they will need to prepare for what some are calling a "twindemic,"or a peak in the number of flu cases and COVID-19 cases at the same time.

"It's very difficult to tell the difference between flu and COVID-19," said Denver Health Chief Medical Officer and Infectious Disease expert Connie Price, MD. "Many of the symptoms overlap and they're similar, so it's really important that we prevent the one that is preventable by getting a vaccine."

Dr. Price is referring to the flu vaccine. There is no vaccine yet for COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 vs. Flu

Dr. Price said the symptoms that are common to both the flu and to COVID-19 include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches/Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What is in the Flu Vaccine?

The flu vaccine contains components that mimic the flu virus but do not get you sick with it.

"If you get a flu vaccine, then when you encounter the real virus, your body is ready to produce an immune response or a defense against that virus to help you clear it," said Dr. Price.

Is the Flu Shot Safe?

Dr. Price said the flu vaccine has been around for a long time and is proven to be safe and the most effective means of stopping the flu virus. She assures all patients that it is always safe to get a flu shot, including during COVID-19.

Visitors are not allowed to enter any Denver Health location if they have any COVID-19 symptoms and patients must notify a Denver Health staff member if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Flu Shot Side Effects

Any side effects caused by the flu vaccines are generally mild and will go away on their own within a few days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common side effects include:

  • Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches

Severe allergic reactions after a flu shot are uncommon, but if you experience difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, paleness, weakness, dizziness or a fast heart beat, call your doctor immediately. If it is an emergency that you think cannot wait, call 911 immediately.

When is the Flu Season

According to the CDC, flu season in the United States is during the Fall and Winter months. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the flu activity peaks between December and February, but activity can last as late as May.

Where Can I Get a Flu Shot at Denver Health?

Denver Health offers the flu shot at all 10 of our Community Health Centers around the city, as well as at our Public Health Immunization Clinic. This year, appointments are required to get a flu shot at both the Health Centers and at the Immunization Clinic to prevent large crowds from gathering in the clinics and help stop further spread of COVID-19.

To make an appointment to get your flu shot, call our Appointment Center at 303-436-4949 or use the free MyChart app.

For more information on COVID-19 and Denver Health's response, visit