Cheshire West and Chester Council is urging residents to prepare for winter and offering tips to help them keep healthy and well.
As the damp and cold of winter starts to bite, residents are always at risk of increased illness including coughs, colds, and the winter vomiting bug, Norovirus. This winter there is increased vulnerability because of the potential for flu and COVID-19 to circulate at the same time.
NHS UK is braced to expect its most difficult winter ever, however, residents can help protect themselves and others by preparing.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and proven to offer high levels of protection against the virus. Vaccines are available to everyone over the age of 12. Ensure that you are up to date with your vaccines and if and when eligible, have had a booster. Visit: www.nhs.uk and click on ‘Find out about COVID-19 vaccination’
Flu vaccines are available free to everyone aged 50 and over, pregnant women, anyone employed in the care professions and all children aged two to 16 years (school Year 11). Visit: www.nhs.uk and search for ‘Flu’. If you are not eligible for the free flu vaccination, there are many pharmacies offering a private vaccination service at a small fee.
Increased uptake of the flu and COVID vaccination amongst eligible residents will ensure more people say well and reduce the pressure on the health service, reducing GP consultations, unplanned hospital admissions and pressure on Accident and Emergency services.
There are other ways we can look after ourselves and others this winter:
- Continue with the guidance of hands, face, space and fresh air – wearing a face mask and regularly hand washing will not only help keep COVID-19 at bay but also other winter bugs and viruses.
- Keep warm and keep your homes warm – you may be eligible for help through a Cold Weather Payment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) or a Winter Fuel Payment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). Advice on reducing your heating bills and making your home more energy efficient can be found from the Government Simple Energy Advice service online or by calling 0800 444 202.
- Make sure you have COVID-19 LFT no-symptom testing kits on hand and continue to test yourself twice a week, before visiting someone who is more vulnerable to COVID, and when attending indoor events. For more information about testing in the borough visit: cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/c19testing.
- Prepare for coughs and colds by stocking up on items like tissues, paracetamol and food.
- Keep warm – wear extra layers and drink hot drinks.
- Keep mobile – ensure that you keep moving, even just a little every few hours keeps us fitter and gets blood circulating.
- Eat healthily and well.
- Consider taking a Vitamin D supplement in Autumn and Winter to protect your general health, in particular bone and muscle health. The Government recommends a daily dose of 10 micrograms. See Vitamin D - NHS (www.nhs.uk) for further information.
- Take care of your mental health and look out for others. Visit: livewell.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk and click ‘Health services, staying healthy and wellbeing’.
- Choose to look after each other - Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives and make sure that they are prepared for winter.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “Our health is the most important thing that we have. Winter is always a difficult period so we need to do all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones, particularly this winter.
“Make sure that you have had your free flu vaccine if you are eligible and ensure that you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. If you are yet to get vaccinated make sure that you do so, as soon as you are able.
“Check in too on any elderly or vulnerable neighbours. Check that they are okay, up to date on their vaccines and have all that they need. By choosing to look after one another we all can keep well and relieve pressure on the NHS.”
Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health, said: “With the added uncertainty of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 looming, along with all the usual winter viruses and bugs, it is more important than ever that we prepare. Book in for a flu vaccine and make sure that you and your loved ones are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. The vaccines are proven to be safe, effective and are our best line of defence.
“Leave as little as you can to chance. Maintain hands, face, space and get fresh air into any crowded room every hour. Let’s make this festive season one to remember and not one to forget.”