Five ways to protect yourself against Covid-19 and the flu this winter

Sheffield’s health chief has outlined what people can do this winter to stay healthy and to protect friends and family.

Director of public health Greg Fells says there is an “exceptionally difficult winter ahead” as Covid and flu create a perfect storm for an already overworked NHS.

He said: “It’s not just Covid by a long way, we are also seeing the impact of other winter illnesses and we haven’t yet got to the flu season. GPs, ambulances and A&E departments are seeing record numbers of patients. That matters as routine care may be delayed or put off and even emergency care services will become more pressured with longer waiting.

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“The pandemic is far from over and we need to remain cautious. Nobody wants to see a return of restrictions so it’s important we do all we can to prevent this. There are simple things we can do to help take care of our family and friends this winter.”

A flu jab

Get vaccinated against Covid

Mr Fell says this is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and others. He is urging everyone to have both jabs and says it’s especially important for pregnant women.

“By far the most important intervention is primary vaccination in unvaccinated adults, especially older ones," he said. "If you haven’t yet had dose one and two it is never too late and please reconsider.”

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Many clinics across Sheffield are still offering the jab and there is no need to book and no need to be registered with a GP.

Get your booster jab

Protection from the vaccine may decrease over time so if you are invited for a booster, make sure you go. Boosters are being offered to the same high priority groups as previously, if you are over 50 or work in health or care homes.

You can have a booster six months after your second dose.

Get a flu jab

Mr Fell says: “We are trying to avoid co-infection with flu and Covid as there are much worse outcomes if people become acutely unwell with both.”

Remember the basic advice

“Masks have never been a bad thing and have the added benefit of reducing transmission of other respiratory viruses,” advises Mr Fell. “Keep your distance and focus on better ventilation in indoor spaces. Work from home if you can and reduce your contacts."#

If you have symptoms and you suspect Covid, arrange a PCR test at gov.uk or by calling 119.

Be patient with the NHS

Mr Fell says: “If you are finding it difficult to access care, they are working under incredible pressure. Help medical staff prioritise patients with the most urgent needs by first seeking advice from a local pharmacy or 111. Only call 999 or attend A&E in an emergency.

“You can also use the NHS app to book appointments, ask for medication or get medical advice, or use the eConsult option on your practice’s website to get a response the next day.”