Flu or COVID-19 - Which is Worse?

vaccine; Emergency Preparedness; AHCA/NCAL Updates; COVID-19
A common misperception that exists is that COVID-19 is no longer a serious virus, and some may even believe that it's less serious than influenza. While the rates of serious illness, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19 are significantly lower than during the height of the pandemic in early 2020 and 2021, recent data indicates that COVID-19 remains more serious than influenza.

Key Highlights:
  • Seniors who contract COVID-19 are much more likely to experience serious illness, hospitalizations, or death.
  • The rates of hospitalizations for individuals over the age of 65 is nearly 10x greater than those with influenza (see figure 1).
  • Among individuals over 65 they are 3-4x more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to influenza (see figure 2).

Figure 1. Rate of hospitalizations for individuals over 65 with COVID-19, Influenza and RSV.  
Figure 1 Rate of hospitializations.png
Source: CDC Respiratory Virus Hospitalization Surveillance Network RESP NET) accessed 1-4-24

Figure 2. Percentage of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 or Influenza who die by age group.
Figure 2 Percentage of hospitalizations.png
Source: CDC Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality Surveillance from the National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Surveillance System (FluView interactive) accessed 1-4-24

Because the vaccine reduces the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death, this information can be helpful during discussions with residents and their representatives who have reluctance about getting vaccinated, particularly for those who are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but got the influenza vaccine.

Download other talking points and template letters to use with long term care residents and staff to help encourage they get vaccinated.  

Explore other resources in AHCA/NCAL's #GetVaccinated toolkit at getvaccinated.us/.​