Getting your flu jab and self care are still the best way to stay well this winter, health professionals advise. If you are eligible for an NHS flu jab and haven’t had one yet, ask your GP surgery or Pharmacy.
Winter is a particularly busy time for the NHS so to help alleviate pressure on the local NHS, Somerset County Council’s Director of Public Health is reminding people of the simple things they can do to help make this winter a healthy one.
Trudi Grant, Somerset Director of Public Health said: “Winter brings with it a whole range of illnesses and ailments such as flu, coughs and colds and Norovirus, the winter vomiting bug.
“Prevention is always better than cure so if you start to feel unwell, at the very first sign of a winter illness, even if it is just a cough or cold, please get advice from your well qualified pharmacist before it gets more serious. Try and eat warm food and drink hot drinks, heat homes to at least 18 degrees and keep active to keep warm.
“Cold and flu viruses are spread when you breathe in droplets that are coughed or sneezed out by an infected person. You can also catch a cold or flu by touching an infected object or surface and then touching your eyes and nose. So making sure we all practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with warm water and soap and coughing or sneezing into a tissue and throwing it away quickly will help to keep the germ bugs at bay.”
Councillor Christine Lawrence, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing added: “Please keep an eye out for elderly relatives and neighbours and support them in the cold weather to stay well this winter.
“If you start to feel unwell, but are generally fit and healthy, you can usually manage the symptoms of a cold or flu yourself without seeing your GP. To help you get better quicker, just rest and sleep, keep warm, drink plenty of water (fruit juice or squash mixed with water is fine) to avoid dehydration and gargle salt water to soothe a sore throat.
“Finally, having a well-stocked medicine cabinet and making the most of your well qualified local pharmacist to treat minor ailments will all help to relieve pressure on the NHS.”
Dr Ed Ford, a Somerset GP and Chair of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The flu season has started to kick in. If you are healthy getting a cold or even flu is not normally life-threatening but for the very elderly, or people living with long-term health problems, like chronic lung disease or asthma, the complications caused by the flu virus can be very serious.
The elderly, their carer’s and people living with long-term health problems should get a flu vaccination if they have not already had one.
If you start to feel unwell, stay at home and manage your symptoms. Please don’t risk infecting others, by visiting people in hospitals or care homes.”
The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus and it is vital that those eligible have it every year. So if you are eligible and haven’t had your flu vaccination yet don’t put it off. Ask your GP surgery or Pharmacy about the free flu vaccine now.
If you are unwell, you should carefully consider the best place to get treatment. Accident and Emergency (A&E) is for life threatening and serious injury only, but there are a range of other options that could suit your needs including your local pharmacy, Somerset Minor Injury Units or calling the national 111 service.
The Stay Well This Winter campaign can help you prepare for winter.