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COVID-19 vs Influenza – How Can I Tell the Difference?

Covid-19 vs Influenza – How Can I Tell the Difference?

Flu season is upon us and with that, it leaves many people wondering if things like cough, itchy throat, and low-grade fevers are Influenza (Flu) or if they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Below we’ve listed how both viruses may present and some tips on how to tell the difference.


  • Symptoms typically occur within 1- 4 days of infection
  • Most people who have the flu are contagious for about 1 day prior to showing symptoms and older children/adults are typically more contagious during the initial 3-4 days of the illness but remain contagious for around 7 days.
  • Highest risk patients include: Older adults, those with underlying medical conditions which include infants/children, pregnant people.


  •  Symptoms typically occur within 5 days of infection but can appear between days 2 and 14.
  • It is possible to spread the virus for about 2 days prior to experiencing any symptoms and sometimes even earlier than that. COVID-19 positive patients remain contagious for at least 10 days after their signs/symptoms first appear however, those who have weakened immune systems can be contagious for much longer.
  • Highest risk patients include: Older adults, those with underlying medical conditions which include infants/children, pregnant people

Valley Health is here for you to answer any of your questions regarding signs and symptoms, testing and vaccinations against both the Influenza virus and COVID-19. For more information on our services please call your preferred healthcare provider. Click here for a full list of our locations.

**All information shared here and additional information about both Influenza and COVID-19 can be found by visiting: Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19​ | CDC


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COVID-19 and Children

COVID-19 and Kids

Are COVID-19 symptoms different in children than adults?
Most COVID-19 symptoms are the same for children as it is for adults and include fever, cough, tiredness, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, diarrhea, or vomiting. Children are less likely than adults to have severe symptoms. Some children may not have any symptoms at all (asymptomatic). Serious symptoms may be more common in children who have certain health problems.


What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19?
Call your child’s doctor. They can tell you what to do, including testing information and advice to best treat and care for your child.


How are children treated for COVID-19?
Most healthy children who get infected are able to recover at home. It is important that they get rest and stay hydrated. Monitor your child for worsening symptoms, and call your child’s doctor with any questions or concerns.


Can COVID-19 lead to other illnesses in children?
There are rare reports of children with COVID-19 experiencing inflammation throughout the body called Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This can be serious and lead to organ damage if not treated quickly.

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Fever that lasts for longer than 24 hours
  • Belly pain, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Confusion, irritability, or being extra tired

Call your child’s doctor right away if your child has any of these symptoms.

How can I talk to my child about the pandemic?

Helping your child feel comfortable during this time is especially important. Talking about COVID-19 shouldn’t increase your child’s anxiety-- knowledge is powerful and gives children reliable and predictable information about what is happening.

Make them feel safe by staying calm and reassure them that you are there to take care of them. Offer them comfort, but be truthful.

Let them lead the conversation, and ask what they already know. This will give you an idea of what they are concerned about, or if they have been hearing the wrong information.

If your child is expressing fear or anxiety, let them know that kids don’t seem to get as sick as adults. You can let them know that precautions like quarantining and social distancing help keep everyone safe.

You can be an example to your children by being vaccinated, washing your hands frequently and encouraging them to do the same, and wearing your mask.


Additional Resources

For more tips and tricks on about talking to your kids about COVID-19, PBS has published "10 Tips for Talking About COVID-19 with Your Kids" and is a great resource on ideas about how to start the conversation, or how to help them deal with changes caused by the pandemic.

To help keep little ones busy and give them helpful, age-appropriate information about COVID-19 the CDC published a free coloring book Coping with COVID-19, with printable pages.


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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2, which appeared in late 2019 and quickly spread.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19, and when do they start?
Symptoms of COVID-19 typically start 4 or 5 days after being infected with the virus. Some people may never show symptoms, or have very mild symptoms.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches or muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or diarrhea

How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is spread through particles from the infected person’s lungs and airway, and usually spreads when they cough, sneeze, or talk near other people.

It is easily passed between families and people who live together, but can be spread at gatherings where people talk closely together, hug, or share food or drink.

People can be infected and spread the virus without even having symptoms, and some strains or variants of the virus may be more contagious.

Can people who are vaccinated still spread the virus?
Vaccines work incredibly well to prevent serious illness and death, but nothing prevents 100 percent of infections. It is possible for a person who has been vaccinated to get COVID-19, and this is sometimes referred to as “breakthrough infections”. While it may seem that lots of breakthrough infections have been reported, most cases of COVID-19 are occurring in unvaccinated people.

Do I need to wear a mask after being vaccinated?
If you live in an area where COVID-19 is spreading quickly, experts recommend that you wear a mask indoors or around other people, or while traveling. Even if you have been vaccinated, it is still possible to get the virus and spread it to others.

What are the different variants of the virus that cause COVID-19?
Viruses can change or “mutate” which creates new strains or variants. Most of the time new variants won’t change how a virus works, but some can affect virus’s ability to spread and may make people sicker.

The more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 the harder it will be for the virus to spread and create new variants.

How long are you contagious?
Most people are no longer contagious by 10 to 14 days after their symptoms started, but it is important to talk to your doctor to figure out when you are no longer considered contagious.

How long does it take to recover from COVID-19?
Most people who get COVID-19 feel better within a few weeks. Those who experience more severe illness may have ongoing symptoms. Your recovery can depend on factors like age or overall health.


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