The message from health experts to the elderly and vulnerable this winter is not to hesitate, but seek help at the first sign of an illness – even if it’s just a cough or a cold.
The over-65s, the pregnant, parents of small children and those with long-term health conditions are all at risk in cold weather. Alan White, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, said those who may be vulnerable should plan ahead and be willing to seek help.
He said: “Those who are eligible for free flu vaccinations should have them as soon as possible if they haven’t already done so – it’s free because they need it.
“The important thing for those who may be more vulnerable is that if you start to feel unwell, even for just a cough or a cold, see your pharmacist as soon as possible for advice before it gets more serious.”
Free flu jabs are already available this winter for those at risk, and for carers. Children aged two to eight can also have a free vaccine, but they have it as a nasal spray, rather than an injection. Although autumn has been mild, so far, it’s important to keep warm indoors and outdoors as it helps prevent colds, flu and more serious problems including heart attacks, pneumonia and strokes.
It’s suggested homes be heated to at least 18°C, or 65°F, with the living room slightly warmer. Additional advice about getting help heating your home is available at https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/heating
Alan White added: “It’s important to plan ahead to look after ourselves, but for those we also take care of.
“Older neighbours, friends and relatives are more vulnerable in the winter months and may need a little extra help this winter. Please keep in touch with them and check they’re warm and have enough healthy food to keep them going.”
Additional advice and information about staying healthy this winter can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/staywell