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Flu and COVID-19: What's the difference?

The flu (influenza) and COVID-19 are both contagious lung infections and lead to similar symptoms, but are caused by different viruses. 

  • Flu is caused by infection with the influenza virus. There are two main types of influenza virus called influenza A and influenza B. These two types of the virus change just enough from year to year to evade our immune system and cause a seasonal influenza epidemic. 

  • COVID-19 is caused by infection with the 2019 coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. This virus also evolved into new mutations because it spreads more easily.

Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person-to-person through droplets or smaller virus particles made when people with the illness cough, sneeze, or talk. The smallest particles may linger in the air, and another person can inhale them and become infected. 

  • Usually, the virus spreads between people who are in close contact, within 2 meters or 6 feet, of one another. 

  • Isolating when indicated, washing your hands frequently and wearing a medical mask when recommended can help reduce the spread of both COVID-19 and flu viruses. 

Did You Know?

It’s possible to get infected with the flu and COVID-19 viruses at the same time. This co-infection may lead to worse health outcomes. Luckily, vaccines are available. 

The vaccine for COVID-19 and the vaccine for the flu are different, but you can get them at the same time!

Frequently Asked Questions

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Influenza (flu) is a contagious lung disease caused by the influenza virus. This is a different virus than the one that causes COVID-19.

ᐋᐦ ᒌᔥᑎᐦᐧᐋᑭᓂᐧᐃᑦ ᐊᐧᐋᓐ ᐋᑳ ᒑ ᒌᐦ ᑳᐦᒋᔥᑎᓂᐦᒃ ᑳ ᐱᐹᒫᔥᑎᓂᔨᒡ ᐋᐦᑯᓱᐧᐃᓂᔨᐤ

A yearly flu shot is recommended in Canada for everyone 6 months and older.

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