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
- general aches and pains
- sore throat
- loss of appetite
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:
- 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
There are many myths surrounding flu and the flu vaccine. Here are some common ones and the truth behind them.
|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.
Dowloadable resources >