Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Do You Have COVID-19? Influenza? Or is it RSV? Here’s What to Look For

Image of Military personnel preparing a COVID-19 test sample for processing. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cody Emery, 30th Medical Group medical lab technician, prepares a COVID-19 test sample for processing April 8, 2021, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (Photo by: Michael Peterson, Space Launch Delta 30 ).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Are you or a loved one not feeling well? Feverish? Starting to cough?

It's hard to know what it is. Is it COVID-19? The seasonal flu? Or is it respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV?

All three have similar symptoms, with fever being the most common. If you want to know for sure, you can check with your health care provider. These viruses could become severe in a short span of time, so starting on the right treatment can be important.

Below is a rundown of virus symptoms and potential risks.

COVID-19 Symptoms

The good news about COVID-19 vaccines is they are effective in reducing the chances of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, advises that getting a COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot when eligible are the best tools to protect you and your family against COVID-19.

People with COVID-19 report a wide range of symptoms that may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms are likely to include fever, cough, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, and possibly a temporary loss of smell and taste. The CDC published a full list of potential COVID-19 symptoms.

"COVID-19 infection usually starts in our head. It later affects our lungs and the rest of our body," said Dr. David Hrncir, medical director, Central Vaccine Safety Hub, Defense Health Agency-Immunization Healthcare Division.

Preliminary research has shown that the Omicron variant does not spread into the lungs as aggressively as the Delta variant, which was dominant in the United States until Omicron emerged.

People who have received COVID-19 vaccines can still experience COVID-19 infections that may have symptoms similar to the common cold or flu. Patients might need testing to help confirm a diagnosis.

To help you evaluate your symptoms, the CDC has a self-tracker tool that asks demographic questions and whether you have "life-threatening symptoms that may require urgent care."

Influenza Symptoms

Influenza - better known as the flu - is also circulating. The CDC warns that the flu usually comes on suddenly, and can be more dangerous than a common cold.

Military personnel holding the flu vaccine
Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), received their influenza vaccinations Nov. 8, 2021, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Medics assigned to HHBN administered shots to protect against the virus (Photo by: Army Sgt. Tanis Kilgore).

The flu virus can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death, even during mild flu seasons. Flu activity was unusually low last winter in the United States and globally, resulting in an estimated 22,000 U.S. deaths. That compares to 52,000 U.S. deaths during the 2018-2019 flu season, the last year for full reporting.

People who have the flu typically have some or all of the symptoms that the CDC lists on its site, including fever, cough, sore throat, and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

The simultaneous surge of flu and COVID-19 cases nationwide is another important reason to get a flu vaccine to protect you. It is possible to get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which would increase the risk of severe illness.

"Decreasing the impact of influenza with your annual flu vaccine lessens the risk of having a co-infection of several viruses with all the unique symptoms from each viral infection impacting you at the same time," Hrncir said.

Vaccination for the flu is available at military medical treatment facilities, clinics, and at commercial pharmacies and doctors' offices.

People who are at a higher risk of flu complications include children, those over 65, and those with compromised immune systems. There are certain therapeutics that may help these risk groups.

CDC has an influenza web page that provides information on current trends in the disease.

Is It RSV?

A third threat this winter is the respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, which is a mostly seasonal contagious respiratory virus. It most frequently afflicts premature infants, and children under two years old with chronic heart or lung disease.

RSV can affect adults as well, especially those 65 older and those with compromised immune systems.

Fever is one of RSV's primary symptoms, along with runny nose, cough and a decrease in appetite. However, more serious symptoms of RSV like difficult or rapid breathing may require hospitalization. Watch out for these symptoms and seek medical care immediately.

Mild RSV typically resolves on its own. There is no vaccine to prevent RSV or specific medication to treat this virus. Recommended home treatments for children who show signs of RSV include fever reduction with over-the-counter medication; conservative nasal suctioning; and offering plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Otherwise healthy adults who get infected with RSV usually have mild or no symptoms. Symptoms are typically consistent with an upper respiratory tract infection. The disease usually lasts less than five days, according to the CDC.

During the winter cold and flu season, make sure you review the CDC's public health care precautions to take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

You also may be interested in...

Spread Facts, Not the Flu

Infographic
5/25/2022
Spread Facts, Not the Flu

How to prevent spread of the flu

Recommended Content:

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit | Prevent the Flu | Immunizations

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Main Graphic

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

Infographic
4/21/2022
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Graphic 2

If your military hospital or clinic offers these antiviral treatments as part of the COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative, use these graphics to promote your services to your beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Treatment

Make Guidance for DOD Facilities

Infographic
2/3/2022
Make Guidance for DOD Facilities

Mask Guidance for Department of Defense Facilities.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19

Additional Dose of mRNA

Infographic
2/3/2022
Additional Dose of mRNA

Should I get an additional dose of the mRNA Vccine?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

VaxFacts: Should I get a booster?

Infographic
2/3/2022
VaxFacts: Should I get a booster?

Should I get a COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

VAXFacts TRICARE coverage Vaccine

Infographic
2/3/2022
VAXFacts TRICARE coverage Vaccine

Will TRICARE cover the COVID-19 Vaccine? Yes. TRICARE offers the vaccine itself at no cost, but there may be a cost based on your plan for an office visit or if you require follow-on care.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

Preteens Teens Can Get Boosted Too

Infographic
2/3/2022
Preteens Teens Can Get Boosted Too

Preteens and Teens can get boosted, too! The CDC recommends a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for preteens/teens ages 12 and older, 5 months after their second shot.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Vaccines for Children

Compromised Immune System

Infographic
2/3/2022
Compromised Immune System

Do you have a compromised immune system? The CDC recommends you get an additional primary dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

Formulary Search Tool Buckslip (Page 2)

Infographic
1/27/2022
Formulary Search Tool Buckslip (Page 2)

The back side of a buck slip. Educates beneficiaries what the search tool is and what information can be found. QR code is on the right and links to the search tool. The TRICARE and Express Scripts logo are on the bottom left.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Pharmacy Operations Toolkit

Formulary Search Tool Buckslip (Page 1)

Infographic
1/27/2022
Formulary Search Tool Buckslip (Page 1)

The front side of a buck slip. Educates beneficiaries what the search tool is and what information can be found. Links to esrx.com/tform. Has three graphics grouped together on the right hand side.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Pharmacy Operations Toolkit

We Can Do It (1201 x 901)

Infographic
1/10/2022
We Can Do It  (1201 x 901)

We can do it: Simple measures can protect you and your community. Wear a mask, get vaccinated, and check out where and when you can get your booster! https://tricare.mil/coronavirus

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19

Quarantine vs Isolation

Infographic
1/10/2022
Quarantine vs Isolation

Been exposed or feeling symptoms of COVID-19? Make sure you understand the difference between quarantine and isolation to keep your community safe. https://tricare.mil/coronavirus

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19

We Can Do It (1081 x 1081)

Infographic
1/10/2022
We Can Do It  (1081 x 1081)

We can do it: Simple measures can protect you and your community. Wear a mask, get vaccinated, and check out where and when you can get your booster! https://tricare.mil/coronavirus

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19

We Have the Tools

Infographic
1/10/2022
We Have the Tools

We have the tools to fight: Protect yourself and your community from the spread of COVID-19 with the right tools. Make sure you wear your mask, get vaccinated, and find your nearest testing site. Learn more https://tricare.mil/coronavirus

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 7
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 24, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.