Stay well this winter

Stay well this winter

Winter can be challenging and as the days get colder and bugs and illnesses become more common, it’s important to take care of your health. Together with our health and local authority partners, we’ve put together lots of advice and tips to help you stay well this winter.

Protecting against flu

The flu virus occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it’s sometimes called seasonal flu and it can be far more serious than you think. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly.

Symptoms of flu can be debilitating and can last for several weeks. Symptoms include:

  • a sudden high temperature
  • headache
  • general aches and pains
  • tiredness
  • sore throat
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • cough

Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but for some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat.  At the first signs of a cough or cold get help from your pharmacist before it gets more serious.  A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.

The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by protecting yourself against flu and have the flu vaccination.  

Those aged over 65, pregnant women, carers and people with a long-term condition can receive a free flu jab from their GP surgery or pharmacist.

You should consider having a flu vaccination if you:

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  • have a long-term health condition
  • are aged 65 years or over
  • live in a residential or nursing home
  • are the main carer of an older or disabled person
  • are a household contact of an immunocompromised person
  • are a frontline health or social care worker
  • are pregnant

Flu myths

There are many myths surrounding flu and the flu vaccine.  Here are some common ones and the truth behind them.

Myth Fact
 Having the flu is like having a heavy cold A bad bout of flu is much worse than a heavy cold.
 Having the flu vaccine gives you flu The injected flu vaccine that is given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses, so it can’t give you flu.  The children’s flu nasal spray vaccine contains live but weakened flu viruses that will not give your child flu
Once you’ve had the flu vaccine, you’re protected for life The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so you need a vaccination each year that matches the new virus
I’m pregnant, so I shouldn’t have the flu jab because it will affect my baby  You should have the vaccine whatever stage of pregnancy you are in.  If you’re pregnant, you could get very ill if you get flu, which could also be bad for your baby
I’ve had the flu already this autumn, so I don’t need the vaccination this year You need the flu vaccination if you’re in one of the risk groups.  As flu is caused by several viruses, you will only be protected by the immunity you developed naturally against one of them
If I missed having the flu jab in October, is it too late to have it later in the year It’s better to have the flu vaccine as soon as it become available, usually in October, but it’s always worth getting vaccinated at any time until March

Children and the flu vaccine

This year more children are being vaccinated because we know that they can very easily pick up germs and spread them amongst friends and family. This vaccination programme will help protect the population.

Children aged two and three years old are offered this vaccination in general practice.  Your child’s GP surgery should contact you.  If you haven’t heard from your GP by early November, contact them directly to make an appointment.

Children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3 & 4 will be offered the vaccine at school.  Your child’s school will provide details from the local healthcare team. Children over six months old with a long-term health condition should also be given the flu vaccination.

Reasons to vaccinate your child against flu

  • Protect your child – the vaccine will help protect your child against flu and serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Protect you, your friends and family – vaccinating your child will help protect more vulnerable friends and family
  • No injection needed – the nasal spray is painless and easy to have
  • Avoid costs – if your child gets flu, you may have to take time off work or arrange alternative childcare

Accessing the right healthcare services

If you become unwell or are injured, it’s important to choose the right NHS service to make sure you get the best treatment as quickly as possible. In Wiltshire, there are numerous ways to access health care advice and treatment, click on the links below to find out more.

Self care
  • First point of call for any minor illness or injury
  • Start tackling your symptoms straight away
  • Can help free up GP appointments

Learn more about self care

 
NHS Choices
  • The UK’S biggest health website
  • Lots of information and advice to support your self care
  • Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year  

Learn more about NHS Choices

NHS 111
  • A free non-emergency phone service
  • Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • Trained call handlers will listen to your symptoms and direct you to the best medical care for you

Learn more about NHS 111

 
Pharmacy
  • Experts in medicines
  • Can provide advice on a number of common ailments
  • A visit to your local pharmacy could stop a minor illness getting worse and prevent you needing to go to your GP

Learn more about pharmacy services

Walk-in centre
  • Treats non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses such as bites, sprains, stomach upsets and coughs
  • Run by experienced clinicians on a first come, first served basis – you don’t need to book an appointment

Learn more about walk-in centres

 
Minor Injury Units (MIUs)
  • Treats non-life-threatening injuries such as bites, sprains, infections and broken bones
  • Run by experienced nurses on a first come, first served basis – you don’t need to book an appointment
  • Cannot treat minor illnesses

Learn more about MIUs

GP and GP out of hours service
  • Treats conditions that can’t be treated with self care, over the counter medications or advice from a pharmacy
  • Deals with a range of health problems 
  • The GP out of hours service is available when your GP surgery is closed

Learn more about GP services

 
A&E
  • Only use an A&E service in very serious or
    life-threatening situations such as stroke, severe bleeding, heart attack, severe head injury or fits that do not stop
  • Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

Learn more about A&E