BARRIE, ONT. -- Fighting the flu this fall is even more of a priority for 2020 when coupled with COVID-19, according to Dr. Gabrielle Salmers, a pediatrician at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital.

Madison: With flu season here, how can parents decipher between what might be flu symptoms versus COVID-19 symptoms?

Dr. Salmers: Unfortunately, it is pretty tough to differentiate between the two, and in most cases, it's not going to be possible.

We do know that there are some things that are more commonly seen with the flu. For example, things like muscle aches, headaches, but those things can also be symptoms of COVID, so really, the only way you are going to be able to tell is by going to an assessment centre and have the swab done.

Madison: At what point should a parent seek COVID testing for their child?

Dr. Salmers: As the public health guidelines indicate, anytime you have a symptom like fever, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, headache - all those kinds of things are symptoms of COVID, and you should make an appointment and get swabbed.

Recently, they changed guidelines so that if the only symptom is a runny nose, you can wait 24 hours and see if that subsides. Also, if you have a child who has common symptoms such as allergy symptoms, it would be anything out of the ordinary for that child in which you should seek testing.

Madison: Why is it so critical that children get the flu shot this year?

Dr. Salmers: With COVID around, it is an extra risk in terms of a respiratory illness that can affect children.

We know so far that children don't usually get as sick as adults or don't get too sick with COVID, aside from some upper repository symptoms like a cough, a cold or a sore, throat and maybe a fever.

Because it is so different to tell the difference between COVID and the flu, getting the flu shot can be really essential in preventing some of those symptoms that overlap between the two, and that could cut down on things like missed school. It will also mean that you're at less of a risk overall.