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Opinion: Reduce the risk of winter illness

PUBLISHED: 08:30 16 November 2019

Dr Jagan John

Dr Jagan John

Mark Sepple

It's that time of year again - winter is here, and with it comes heightened health risks for certain people.

Pregnant women, toddlers, those over 65, people with a weakened immune system and those with long term conditions are more vulnerable than most during winter. Remember that if you or a family member have any non-emergency issues, calling 111 (or visiting 111.nhs.uk) should be your first port of call.

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There are several things everyone can do to reduce the risk of winter illness. It's important to stay warm, so make sure you have plenty of layers on when going out and a blanket handy at home in case it gets cold indoors. Use and then bin tissues for sneezes or coughs, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap regularly to prevent the spread of germs.

The best way to reduce the risk is by ensuring you are up to date with vaccinations. The flu vaccine takes just a few minutes, and it's easy to set up an appointment for it with your GP using the free NHS app. If you or your child is in one of the groups I listed before, I urge you to book an appointment to have your free vaccination. Alternatively, people can get jabs from their local pharmacy and pregnant women from their midwifery service.

Even if you aren't in one of these at risk groups, you should still consider having the vaccine to help protect yourself and others, especially if you care for or work with vulnerable people.

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