Think you might have the flu? Here’s what to do

By Angela Patterson, Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer, MinuteClinic

Feeling achy? Tired? Feverish? Wondering if you have the flu or even something else?

If you’re feeling a little off this season, then you may be considering a sick visit to your neighborhood MinuteClinic®. Seeking care for your flu-like symptoms is more important than ever, especially as we get closer to peak flu season, which typically hits the U.S. in February. Unfortunately, this year’s flu season is once again complicated by the presence of COVID-19. So, if you’re feeling a little off, you may be wondering, “Do I have the flu?”, making it even more important to get checked, tested and treated as soon as you start to feel symptoms.


Flu vs. COVID-19

Both the flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. The flu is caused by infection with an influenza virus, while COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.

Flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms are often similar, including:

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Aches

  • Cough/shortness of breath

  • Sore throat

  • Runny/stuffy nose

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

It can be hard to tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu without a proper diagnosis. Luckily, there are rapid, point-of-care tests to help diagnose conditions like influenza, strep throat and COVID-19. We offer these simple tests at most MinuteClinic® locations, the retail health clinic inside many CVS Pharmacy® stores. Once you’re there, a medical professional can quickly assess your symptoms and provide an appropriate treatment plan.

You can schedule an appointment at Minuteclinic.com.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

If it turns out you don’t have the flu, and you haven’t received your flu shot, then you can get one on the spot. To schedule your flu shot and/or COVID-19 vaccine or booster at a CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic nearest you, visit cvs.com or use the CVS Pharmacy App.

Schedule your flu and COVID-19 vaccines today! These vaccines are an important way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness.

How does the flu shot work?

The flu shot is an inactivated flu virus that “teaches” your immune system to recognize the virus and clear it if you are infected. The flu shot is safe and widely available.

While the flu is common, it can be serious. Getting a flu shot is especially important for groups who are at higher risk for major complications, including:

  • Those who are pregnant

  • People with a chronic condition like asthma, diabetes or heart disease

  • Individuals under age 5 or over age 65

Flu remedies

If it turns out you do indeed have the flu, then there are a number of things you can do to treat your flu symptoms. I always advise patients with the flu to rest and drink plenty of fluids. You can treat symptoms like congestion and cough with simple remedies like saline nasal spray, a humidifier or time spent in a steamy bathroom. And there are many over-the-counter remedies like cough suppressants and lozenges, as well as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with fever, headache and body aches.

If your flu infection is severe or you’re at high risk for complications, you may be prescribed an antiviral drug. These medications decrease the ability of the flu virus to reproduce and work best when taken within 48 hours of your symptoms appearing.

Get your flu shot today! It’s never too late to protect yourself from the flu.