Flu Information for Your Needs

Cold vs. Flu vs. COVID-19

Feeling sick but unsure if you have the flu? The common cold, flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms, but often present very differently. Here are how each typically show:
Flu vs cold vs covid

Your Flu Shot Options with Spectrum Health

We’re ready for you anywhere that’s most convenient for you and your family, whether it’s at your primary care provider, urgent care or a walk-in clinic. Curbside vaccination is also available – you don’t even need to get out of your car.
  • Schedule in Spectrum Health App or visit MyChart. Use the button below to access MyChart.


  • Find a community clinic near you.
  • Your employer may be participating in a workplace flu clinic through Spectrum. Learn more here.
  • Find a location, including Urgent Care or Walk-in Clinic near you by using the map below.

If You Are Sick

The flu shot may prevent the flu or reduce symptoms, but there is no cure for the flu. The flu may lead to serious illness, particularly for those with chronic health conditions. Most people with flu will have a mild illness and can treat symptoms by:
  • Staying home
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Taking over-the-counter medications to reduce fever, body aches and congestion

Getting Care
Get care if you think you need medical attention based on your combination of symptoms.
  • Schedule a video visit with a provider. On-demand video visits are available 24/7, convenient and allow you to stay home to prevent the potential spread to others. Conduct an on-demand video visit using MyChart on desktop or through the Spectrum Health app. Learn more.
  • After a video visit, the provider may still recommend you be seen in-person or direct you to an urgent care location, based on the severity of your symptoms.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, it’s critical to quarantine yourself to prevent the potential spread to others.
  • Log into MyChart to be screened for a self-scheduled COVID-19 lab test. You can also message your provider or call your provider’s office. Learn more.
    • Should you qualify and be administered a COVID-19 lab test, note that test results typically will be available within 24 to 48 hours. Your results will be posted to your MyChart account and shared with your provider.

  • It is recommended that self-isolate at home until:
    • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
      AND
    • Other symptoms have improved (e.g. when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
      AND
    • At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms have appeared

  • If your COVID-19 lab results are negative or “not detected”, you no longer need to self-isolate at home; however, would still recommend staying home until you start to feel better.

If your symptoms are life threatening, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Why is the flu shot so important this year?
The flu shot is important every year. But with COVID-19, reducing the spread of preventable respiratory illnesses is more important than ever. The more people that are vaccinated against the flu, the less-likely it’s able to spread. COVID-19 and flu symptoms are very similar and transmit to people in similar ways. The flu vaccine has been safely proven to reduce the risk of the flu.

Who needs a flu shot?
Nearly everyone, except infants less than six-months-old. Flu vaccines are particularly important for children under 2, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions. If you have questions, check with your doctor about getting the flu shot.

When should I get one?
Anytime. Our clinics are ready for you. The most optimal time is September through October, but you can get a shot anytime within the flu season. The sooner you get the flu shot, the better. It takes about two weeks for your body to develop protective antibodies.

Can I still get the flu if I got the flu shot?
Yes. The flu vaccine protects against the most common strains expected during the flu season. It is possible to contract a flu virus not covered by the vaccine or contract the flu in the two-week period it takes for the vaccine to become effective.

What's the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?
The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference. Testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. There’s still much to learn about COVID-19, and information is always evolving. We do know the timing of flu season is predictable, and preventing the flu is as easy as getting an annual flu shot. Learn more.

What else can I do to stay healthy this flu season?
Wearing masks, washing hands frequently and keeping socially distanced from others will help limit flu spread along with COVID-19. Remember to stay active, eat well and drink lots of water.

Need to get your flu shot or access to care?