As we move into the autumn, it is prime time to start preparing ourselves for the coming winter season. We have worked hard and made sacrifices in order to protect the NHS this year, and we must continue to work hard to save lives and protect our families, friends and neighbours.
In order to do this, it is so important to ensure that we are as healthy as possible. Winter is often a difficult season, with colds, flu and more circulating amongst us. NHS services become much busier in the winter and this year our healthcare system will also be dealing with Covid. If we want to protect the NHS and ensure it is not overwhelmed this winter, it is vital that we are fighting fit for whatever the coming season throws at us.
Actions we can take include getting a flu jab. This flu season, the Government has expanded the free flu jab programme to include a much larger group of people, in order to keep us safe. The free flu vaccine has been extended to include those who live with someone who has been shielding, pupils in Y7 and those over 50. This will ensure that 30 million of us – double last year’s figure – are vaccinated against this year’s flu. The best time to get your jab is this autumn, before flu begins to circulate, but it is still worth getting the vaccine even if you leave it until later. You can check your eligibility on the NHS website.
And even if you might not qualify for the free flu jab, it is well worth looking into. You can register your interest with your GP’s surgery and at many local pharmacies, both national and independent.
Another way to protect our community from Covid is to ensure that you only take a test should you need it. Tests should be taken if you have Coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to do so by the council or have been asked to take a test before attending hospital. Coronavirus symptoms include a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. We have massively expanded our testing capabilities in recent months, but we need to ensure that tests are only taken if needed.
Whilst we are relieved that local restrictions in our area have been lifted, cases do remain and social distancing, wearing a face mask and hand hygiene remain really important. Although severe cases amongst young people are rare, it is still possible to pass on the virus to our more vulnerable loved ones.
Our Prime Minister has also pressed the importance of taking care of ourselves and making sure we stay healthy through exercise and eating well in order to ease the burden on our healthcare system – the NHS has some fantastic guides and advice on this.
Taking helpful, preventative actions that protect our health will in turn help to protect against avoidable illness and ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed this winter. We all want to protect our healthcare system and save lives – and we can play our part to protect our health and make the coming months easier on our health service.