WASHINGTON — QUESTION:
If you have a common cold or the flu or you just got the flu vaccine, will that cause you to test positive for COVID-19?
Our experts say that's false.
Dr. William Schaffner- Professor of Preventative Medicine, Health Policy and Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases- Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Dr. Stephen Kissler- Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Some people online are claiming that if you have a cold or the flu, or even if you recently got the flu vaccine, it could make you test positive for COVID-19.
Our Verify team looked into whether or not that's true.
Our Verify researchers spoke with two infectious disease experts, Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dr. Stephen Kissler with Harvard University, who both say this claim is false.
“That’s incorrect," Schaffner said. "COVID is a distinctive virus you will not test positive if you have a common cold or influenza. Those are different viruses so we can distinguish the two very clearly.”
"No you won’t, the COVID test is very specifically targeted towards a part of the genetic sequence of COVID that is not shared by other coronaviruses or certainly not by the flu, which is very distantly related," he said. "So you would not get a positive test due to vaccination or infection by those things."
Dr. Kissler went on to say false positives are possible but rare.
"Now, there’s still a possibility of getting a false positive COVID test just because the tests do sometimes turn a false positive, but the probability of that is very low especially for the PCR tests that we normally get.”
So we can Verify that our experts say no, just because you have a cold, the flu or recently got the flu shot, that alone won't make you test positive for COVID-19.