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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Back to School with Valley Health

Back to School with Valley Health

By: Dr. Whitney Fulton, MD | Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, East Huntington

I personally think this may have been the shortest, fastest summer ever, but whether we are ready for it or not… school is coming!  For some, this is exciting, much anticipated, happy news! School supplies are purchased and lovingly organized in backpacks.  First day outfits are painstakingly chosen. Fresh haircuts are obtained. 

For others, this fact is undesirable, irritating, or even terrifying. School supply lists are daunting and willfully ignored, and the dread of going back to class is drowned in video games and hours in the pool. Final romps in the playground are stretched as far as they’ll go.

No matter where you and your kids are on this spectrum, Valley Health is ready and able to meet all of your healthcare needs! Our pediatric and family care providers are available for well child visits, immunizations, and sports physicals, as well as on standby to care for any acute injuries or illnesses that may pop up. Our behavioral health team is extensively prepared to help you, your child, and their educational team navigate any mental health needs that may arise. Whatever your need, Valley Health can help meet it!

As we prepare to return to the classrooms, there are several steps you can take now to help make this transition as smooth as possible! If you haven’t already, now is a great time to start working on getting sleep schedules back on track - waking up and going to bed earlier. Those alarm clocks are about to start ringing rather early!  For kids entering grades above preschool, avoiding daytime naps will help with reinstating regular sleep routine. Caffeine should be limited after lunchtime. Avoid electronic use for at least 30 minutes before bed, and remove access to phones, tablets, video games, and televisions at bedtime.

Prepare a space in your home that is designated for homework completion. This site should be well lit, relatively quiet, and void of electronic distractions. Plan to have access to basic school supplies like pencils, crayons, scissors, paper, etc for assignments. With your child’s input, create an after school plan so they will be aware of expectations for when and where homework will be done before the school year even begins. 

If your child takes medications, review dose timing and who is responsible for ensuring doses are taken (as dosing schedule often varies from summer to school routine). If medication administration forms are required for school time doses, request those from your medical provider before the first day of school. 

Many people are still worried about the effects of Covid on school and related activities. Find out what your school’s safety precautions and policies will be, and talk with your kids about these expectations. Thankfully, it appears that all school districts are anticipating that the school year will start with students attending in person, but there will still need to be a number of safety precautions in place.  It is best to approach these conversations in a neutral, matter of fact, supportive way. Accepting and following the safety recommendations and encouraging your kids to do the same will help ensure that they can stay in their classroom desks with their teachers and friends!  While we still aren’t back to “normal”, we can all work together to make this year better than last!

Reach out to your child’s teacher(s)- the earlier those lines of communication are established, the better! If your school has an open house, plan to attend and introduce yourself! Let them know that you’re invested in your child having a great year, and how they can reach you with any concerns. If there is anything specific they need to know about your child and their needs, the beginning of the year is the ideal time for that information to be shared. Talk to them about concerns you have about your child, and enlist them in helping you monitor. 

Most of all, prepare to be flexible. Your child’s needs will change as the year progresses, as will those of the classroom/school/community. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the coming months, but we are all in this together. Valley Health looks forward to partnering with you and your family as we navigate these times together! Stay tuned for regular updates from your Valley Health team, including periodic informational columns on various educational, behavioral, and mental health topics. 


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A conversation about Chuck Yeager and the Yeager Scholarship with Dr. Mathew Weimer

A conversation about Chuck Yeager and the Yeager Scholarship with Dr. Mathew Weimer

What did receiving the Yeager Scholarship mean to you? 

My experience in the Society of Yeager Scholars meant that I had the opportunity to learn in a small group, seminar format that encouraged debate, discussion, and critical thinking. The program also allowed for many once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including studying literature at Oxford University in the UK. 

How did being a Yeager Scholar positively impact your life? 

The most important impact of this program on my life was that it brought me to West Virginia, where I have been ever since (with the exception of a 4 year hiatus when I went to medical school in Ohio). I’m very fortunate to live in Huntington with my family and to serve my patients and the community in the work that I do with Valley Health. I wouldn’t change a thing, and the decision to apply for the Yeager program back in the late 1990s was, as it turns out, a watershed moment for me.

Did you have the opportunity to meet Chuck Yeager? 

I was fortunate to meet General Yeager on multiple occasions, the most memorable of which was flying with him in the fall of 1997 in a P-51 aircraft to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his sound barrier-breaking flight.

Is there anything additional about Chuck Yeager or the Yeager Scholars Program that you would like to share? 

The Yeager program is a great asset for Marshall University and the state, especially with regard to recruiting and potentially retaining young people to live in and contribute to the state and region.


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How receiving the Yeager Scholarship impacted my life

How receiving the Yeager Scholarship impacted my life

By Dr. Ryan Cicenas

Receiving the Yeager Scholarship was incredible.  Of course, having college paid for was a blessing for me (and my parents).  However, the opportunity to be part of something bigger was the reason I chose Marshall.  Most schools give out scholarships based upon academic achievements.  You go to school and earn good grades and they leave you alone.  With the Yeager Scholarship, I was joining a program (and a tough one at that).  My initial Yeager class started with ten students but only seven graduated together.  Each semester for the first two years we had our “Yeager Seminar”.  It was a five hour class that replaced the college basic requirements but was much more intense.  Each class consisted of three or four professors.  Considering the ratio of one professor to 3 students, we were intimidated.  The classes helped us to think critically.  Extensive writing and speaking assignments never seemed to end.  The goal was to produce well rounded students able to tackle any career.  Between our sophomore and junior years my class studied together at Oxford University in England.  Before that trip, I thought little of the plays of William Shakespeare.  Now I can say that I not only appreciate them but enjoy them immensely.  The Yeager Scholarship also provided a semester abroad.  The following summer I studied at Universitas Nebresenses in Madrid, Spain.  I was able to study the language and culture while living with a family in the city.  My art class was conducted while walking through the world famous Prado Museum.   

The program looked for and encouraged extracurricular activities.  As a walk-on, I played football for the Thundering  Herd for two years. I was also involved with my fraternity (Alpha Tau Omega) and my church (The Newman Center). The culmination of the scholarship was completing and presenting our senior projects before we were allowed to graduate as Yeager Scholars.  My project was titled:  The Evolution of Continuity from Aristotle through Calculus.  Last came he medallion ceremony where we were given medallions made of the same material as the Bell X1 plane that Chuck Yeager flew to break the sound barrier in 1947. 

Graduating as a Yeager Scholar gave me the confidence to tackle any problem and helped me find my career.  After finishing my Med-Peds residency at Marshall, I started working as a physician in Bluefield Virginia in a job recommended to me by Joseph Hunnicutt, one of the original forces behind the creation of the Yeager Program.  I then met my wife, Susan Stinnett (now Cicenas) at a Yeager Symposium dinner in 2006.  She was in the Yeager class of 2000.  When leaving my previous job, I interviewed at Valley Health with the administration.  Matthew Weimer was present that day and also just happened to be a Yeager scholar at Marshall.  So in essence, I can thank the Yeager Program for helping me with my jobs and my family. 

I met General Yeager for the first time at the Yeager Symposium dinner in October of 1991 and a few times thereafter.  He had a larger than life personality.  People naturally flocked to him.  He was personable and so down to earth.  And stories – he had so many of them and would always share.  He was always so proud of the program and the students and never hesitated to express that feeling.


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