Take care this flu season.

Cold, flu or COVID-19?

Start your journey to feeling better with the symptom checker.

Use this chart to learn more about what your symptoms might mean so you can make a plan and start feeling better soon.

People have different levels of severity of symptoms, and in the case of COVID-19 you could be asymptomatic (no symptoms at all). This chart can help guide you toward the next steps in seeking care, but the only way to confirm if you have the flu or COVID-19 is by taking a test.

While the flu is treatable, it is not to be underestimated and we strongly encourage getting this season’s flu shot to help minimize your chance of getting the flu or getting severely ill from the flu.

Flu and COVID-19 Test FAQs

Rapid, at-home tests are accurate about 80% of the time. That means the test does not pick up evidence of the virus in every one out of five infected people. This inaccurate result is known as a false negative. Learn more about at-home COVID-19 tests here.

A negative result from a rapid, at-home test doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have COVID-19, especially if you’re feeling sick and/or have been in close contact with someone who has received a positive COVID-19 test result.

The omicron variant is highly contagious, so if you were in close contact with someone who tested positive and you have symptoms, it’s possible that you have COVID-19. Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth, suggests that it’s safest to assume you have COVID-19 and should follow safety protocol.

If you get a positive result from an at-home test, you most likely have COVID-19. False positive results with at-home tests are rare.

Read more here about COVID-19 at-home tests here.

There is no new virus called flurona. The term flurona describes when a person is infected with both the COVID-19 and flu viruses at the same. A simultaneous infection is rare, but possible.

If you have symptoms COVID-19, the flu or just a cold, stay home so you don’t infect others. If you must go out, wear a mask in crowded and/or indoor places. People who are sick should not go to work, the gym, fly on a plane or attend social gatherings. If you have severe symptoms, seek immediate attention at an urgent care, emergency department or by calling 911.

Due to high volumes of individuals seeking testing, it may be difficult to schedule a flu test quickly. Dr. Barron recommends asking a provider for their advice. She also encourages discussing the option of starting Tamiflu™ (a prescription medicine used to treat the flu) if a PCR or at-home test comes back negative. However, she specifies that individuals aged 65 and older, as well as those who have autoimmune disorders or medical conditions that put them at high risk of infection, should communicate with their doctor and will likely need to have a flu test. When in doubt, speak with a provider. If you are uncomfortable going into a medical facility, UCHealth has 24/7 Virtual Urgent Care appointments and Virtual Visits with a primary care provider.

Experiencing symptoms?
Check out these resource pages to learn more.

Get more information about symptoms and treatment for the common cold, flu or COVID-19.

Who gets the flu?

People of all ages can get the flu, which is why preventative measures like hand washing, getting an annual flu shot and staying home when sick are especially important. See the most up-to-date flu data and trends on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Weekly U.S.

Influenza Surveillance Report

Is the flu that big of a deal?

The flu may just be a virus, but it is highly contagious. Getting the flu can make you feel miserable and can lead to other complications like pneumonia, which can make even healthy people very sick. The flu can result in the need to be hospitalized and even death, but getting vaccinated greatly lowers these chances.

Find the right care option for you.

Feeling under the weather? We’re here to support you close to home, work, school or while you stay at home.

  • Virtual urgent care: If you can’t make it to an in-person appointment or if you need care after hours, our virtual urgent care is available 24/7.
  • Urgent care: Sometimes waiting for a doctor’s appointment isn’t the best option. Our teams can treat and see you in person at our urgent care locations and you can reserve your spot in line.
  • Primary care: Our primary care clinics are always an option for your day-to-day needs and when you are sick. 

Flu season FAQs

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. There are four types of the virus, but only two (A and B) are responsible for the yearly outbreaks during flu season. Symptoms can vary in severity, but seeing your physician quickly will help confirm a diagnosis and get the right treatment started.

The flu is highly contagious and spreads primarily through respiratory droplets that spread when a person sneezes or coughs. The virus changes from year to year, which is why we need a new flu shot every year to help combat that season’s particular strain.

Get your vaccines. And take the same kinds of precautions you’ve been taking to stay safe from COVID-19. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, isolate/stay home if you’re sick and wear a mask when in public. Don’t spread your illness. If you have a cough, wear a mask or cover your mouth, wash your hands frequently and clean commonly used areas often.

Flu season typically lasts from September to March and sometimes into April. Peak months of flu cases usually occur in December, January and February.

The earlier you get your shot, the better protected you’ll be. Flu shots will be available at UCHealth locations in early September.

The flu virus changes annually and vaccines are created to specifically combat each years’ variants. This year’s vaccines have also been adapted to reduce potential allergic interactions allowing more people to safely receive the vaccine.

Almost anyone more than six months old should get the flu vaccine—especially very young children, anyone over the age of 65, anyone with respiratory issues or weakened immune systems and pregnant people.

Most definitely. UCHealth infectious-disease expert Dr. Michelle Barron says “Some people say, ‘Why bother getting the vaccine?’ But what in life is 100% guaranteed? The only thing we can predict with 100% guarantee is that we know we will die someday. For me, not getting hospitalized and not dying from the flu or other vaccine-preventable diseases are two good things in my mind.”

Yes! You can get your vaccines at the same appointment. It is important for children to stay up to date with their vaccines and for adults to keep up with vaccines such as the pneumonia vaccine, shingles vaccine and any others. Research shows that it is safe for both children and adults to get all vaccines simultaneously.

Symptoms of a cold, the flu and COVID-19 can be similar and people may get anxious at the first sign of symptoms. The flu and COVID-19 can only be officially confirmed through a flu test and a COVID-19 test. You can schedule an appointment with your primary-care physician or you can reserve your spot in line at an urgent care clinic. Both types of visits can be scheduled through the UCHealth app or online via My Health Connection.

Often, flu symptoms come on suddenly, but this is not the case with all infections. Flu symptoms vary, both in how many symptoms a patient experiences and their severity, but the most common symptoms are:

  • Cough, often becoming severe
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Severe aches and pains
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Flu shot FAQs

So far, children and teens aged 12 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccines. Clinical trials are currently underway to test the COVID-19 vaccines on younger children, toddlers and infants, but those studies are not finished yet. UCHealth infectious disease expert Dr. Michelle Barron says “Yes! Kids need to get up to speed on whatever age-appropriate vaccines they’re supposed to have received. We rely on a high level of immunity in our community to stop the spread of these vaccine-preventable diseases.”

The flu vaccine contains pieces of the influenza virus (or antigens). Once administered, our immune system learns to recognize the enemy and produce armies of antibodies to protect against it. The available vaccine shots are trivalent (which means they protect against two strains of Type A influenza and one strain of Type B) and quadrivalent (which adds protection against another, rarer strain of Type B). Some, but not all, people ages two through 49 can receive a nasal spray vaccine that protects against all four strains of the A and B viruses.

If you are a UCHealth patient, you can schedule your flu shot via the UCHealth app or by visiting uchealth.org and clicking on Schedule Appointment. From there, you can log in to My Health Connection to schedule. If you are new to UCHealth, you can register on our patient portal, My Health Connection.

You can walk into any UCHealth urgent care and reserve your spot in line to receive your flu shot. You will be charged for the visit through your urgent care co-pay or cash pay.

If you are a UCHealth primary-care patient, we advise that you schedule an appointment for your flu shot online.

When you come in for your shot, we are happy to vaccinate others in your party. If your family member is a primary care patient, their shot can be scheduled through the UCHealth app or online via My Health Connection.

We will bill your insurance for the shot and the cost is typically covered under most plans. If you receive the shot in a UCHealth urgent care, you will pay your urgent care co-pay or it will be cash pay.

Some of our locations are providing flu shots in a drive-thru setting. Visit uchealth.org/primarycare for a list of locations. Note that all events are subject to change based on weather.

It is rare to have an allergy to the flu vaccine, but always check with your physician if you are concerned about interactions or allergic reactions.