Winter health advice


Winter health advice

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Get ready for winter

Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or over, and people with long-term conditions. We want to help you and those you care for stay well this winter. 

Keep warm

This may help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia.

Common winter illnesses

Some health problems, such as asthma, sore throat and cold sores, are triggered or worsened by cold weather.

Get a flu jab

Flu vaccination is offered free of charge to people who are at risk, pregnant women, carers and some young children to ensure that they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.


The Antibiotics Awareness Campaign

Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading. However, bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic.


Winter health advice

Winter health advice

Keeping warm in winter

Keeping warm can help prevent cold, flu and other serious health conditions. Wrap up warm and look out for your older friends and relatives to make sure they are safe and well.

Certain groups are more at risk from the cold than others. Cold weather can be more likely to cause you serious health problems if you are:

  • over 65
  • battling a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease
  • disabled
  • on a low income and struggling to afford heating

If possible, people in the above three high risk categories should heat their homes to 18c or warmer, as well as being sure to dress in warm, comfortable clothing.

An electric blanket or a hot water bottle can be an affordable way to keep warm in bed.

If you are struggling to afford your heating bills you may be entitled to:

  • Winter Fuel Allowance
    (available to anyone born on or before July 5 1952)
  • Cold Weather Payment
    (available to some recipients of various benefits including Pension Credit, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, or Universal Credit, if your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days)

You can visit the Energy Saving Trust website or ring them on 0300 123 1234 for more tips on reducing your heating bills.

For more information on any of the above, visit www.nhs.uk or please speak to your GP practice or pharmacist.


Winter health advice

Winter health advice


Make sure you get your flu jab

The flu virus strikes in winter and it can be far more serious than you think. Flu can lead to serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and it can be deadly.

Flu is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus.

That’s why the flu jab is free if you’re aged 65 or over, or if you have a long-term health condition. If you have children or grandchildren aged two, three or four, or in school years one or two, they are eligible for a free flu vaccination.

If you're at risk of complications from flu, make sure you have your annual flu vaccine any time from September onwards.

The effects of flu

Flu symptoms can hit quite suddenly and severely. They usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles. You can often get a cough and sore throat.

Because flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria, antibiotics won't treat it.

Should you have the flu jab?

Anyone can get flu, but it can be more serious for certain people. Speak to your GP about a flu jab if you or someone you care for falls into one of these categories:

  • people aged 65 or over

  • people who have a serious medical condition
  • pregnant women
  • children under the age of 5
  • children with a health condition that puts them at risk

If you are in one of these groups, you're more vulnerable to the effects of flu (even if you're fit and healthy) and could develop flu complications, which are more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which could result in hospitalisation. Flu can also make existing medical conditions worse.

Read more about who should have the flu jab

Carers and the flu jab

If you’re the carer of an elderly or disabled person, make sure they’ve had their flu jab. As a carer, you could be eligible for a flu jab too. Ask your GP for advice, or read our information about Flu jabs for carers.

Pregnant women and the flu jab

If you're pregnant, you should have the flu jab, regardless of the stage of pregnancy you've reached. Pregnant women are more prone to complications from flu that can cause serious illness for both mother and baby.

If you are pregnant and catch flu, talk to your GP urgently as you may need treatment with antiviral medicine.

Read more about the flu jab in pregnancy

Children and the flu vaccine

The flu vaccine for children is a nasal spray and is available each year on the NHS for two-, three- and four-year-olds plus children in school years one and two.

Children with a long-term health condition should also have a flu vaccination because their illness could get worse if they catch flu. This includes any child over the age of six months of age with a long-term health problem such as a serious respiratory or neurological condition.

If you have a child with a long-term condition, speak to your GP about whether they should have the flu vaccination. Some children with a long-term health condition may be advised to have the flu vaccine injection rather than the nasal spray.

Read more about the flu vaccine for children

How to get the flu vaccine

If you think you or your child needs a flu vaccination, check with your GP, practice nurse or local pharmacist. Most GP surgeries arrange flu vaccination clinics around this time. It’s free and it's effective against the latest flu virus strains.

The pneumococcal vaccine

When you see your GP for a flu jab, ask whether you also need the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects you against some forms of pneumococcal infection including pneumonia.

Not all flu vaccines are suitable for children, so discuss this with your GP beforehand.

Speak to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist if you have any further questions.

Read more about who should avoid the flu jab

Read more about the flu jab


Flu video

Why it's important to get the flu vaccine this winter


Antibiotics Awareness

Antibiotics Awareness


Click on the image for information about The Antibiotics Awareness Campaign.