Get the Flu Facts

The flu season has officially started. If you haven’t yet, it is still not too late to get a flu shot. Everyone who is at least six months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. Learn more about the flu, and if you haven't already done so, schedule an appointment.

Influenza and COVID-19

As flu season approaches, University of Utah Health is preparing guidelines for how to evaluate and determine whether a patient has COVID-19 or influenza. The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to tell the difference between the two viruses due to an overlap of symptoms.

Every year, doctors determine whether someone has influenza based on a patients’ clinical symptoms. Because flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, it’s important for a patient to have a clinical evaluation and testing if necessary. “Our goal is to keep our community as safe as we can, test everyone for COVID-19 that needs a test, and advise them on any other steps,” says John Barrett, MD, executive medical director at University of Utah Health.

The best way to prevent flu is by getting vaccinated each year. Doctors at U of U Health encourage everyone to get a flu vaccine to protect yourself, to protect the people around you, and to potentially avoid serious complications.

Tracking Influenza

Doctors at U of U Health follow the current influenza activity in Utah through the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). “One of the ways we think about flu is looking at the community activity at any given time,” Barrett says. “As we see a local outbreak of influenza here in Utah, it’s much more likely that someone with cold symptoms has a case of the flu.”

Following the UDOH Influenza weekly report helps doctors assess a patient and confirm a diagnosis. In Utah, influenza cases generally spike in late November to early December.

Preventive Measures

Individuals should continue to practice preventive measures to help stop the transmission of viruses. Face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, flu, and the common cold. Those that are sick and staying home should do what they can to protect other household members. If symptoms get worse, patients can schedule a virtual visit at U of U Health.


There’s currently no specific antiviral treatments or vaccine for COVID-19, but prescription medications can be used to treat influenza. A flu shot is the best way to help prevent seasonal flu. Doctors recommend individuals get a flu shot as soon as possible. Although the vaccination won’t protect you from COVID-19, it can reduce the severity of symptoms if you get sick. Patients can schedule an appointment for a flu shot at U of U Health’s 12 clinics.

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