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NHS help and advice to stay healthy this winter

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Winter Vaccinations

Vaccinations are important in the fight to stay healthy, particularly during the winter months.

Flu vaccinations

This year those eligible for a free flu vaccine include:

  • are 65 and over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2024)

  • have certain health conditions

  • are pregnant

  • are in long-stay residential care

  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick

  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

Those eligible can book an appointment to receive their vaccination via the NHS app or via local walk-in vaccination clinics.

 

All children aged 2 to 3 years old can have a free flu nasal spray at their GP practice.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect them against serious illness. Parents can contact their GP to book their child’s vaccination.

 

The last date to get a flu vaccine is 31st March. If you are eligible for Flu you can book a flu jab by contacting your GP surgery or finding a pharmacy. Visit www.nhs.uk/wintervaccinations to check if you are eligible and how to book.

 

Covid 19 Vaccinations

You or your child may be offered a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine if you are:

  • aged 65 years old or over (you need to be 65 years old by 31 March 2024)

  • aged 6 months to 64 years old and are at increased risk

  • living in a care home for older adults

  • a frontline health or social care worker

  • aged 16 to 64 years old and are a carer

  • aged 12 to 64 years old and live with someone with a weakened immune system

If you're eligible, you can get a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine by going to a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site, without needing an appointment.


  • You may be contacted by a local NHS service, such as your GP surgery, to get a vaccine for you or your child. This is usually done by text or a phone call, but you may sometimes get a letter or a notification in the NHS App.

  • If you live in a care home and you are eligible, staff at your care home will arrange your vaccination for you.

COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 6 months to 4 years old

  • Children aged 6 months to 4 years old who are at increased risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 can get a 1st and 2nd COVID-19 vaccine.

  • They can also get a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine if they had their 2nd dose over 91 days ago.

  • Contact your child's GP surgery to arrange their appointments.


The last date to get an Autumn Winter Covid-19 seasonal vaccine is 31st January. If you are eligible, you can walk in to a local vaccination service, such as a pharmacy or community walk in clinic.


NHS App

Did you know on the NHS App you can;

  • Check your NHS number

  • Book appointments with your GP surgery

  • View your health record including medical history, test results, allergies.

  • Order any repeat prescriptions and nominate a pharmacy to collect them from

  • Manage all of your appointments in one place

  • Search symptoms and conditions

  • Get health advice


Advice and Support from Pharmacies


  • Quick health advice and reassurance -For quick health advice, visit your local pharmacist. As qualified health professionals and experts in medicines, your local pharmacist offers a wide range of services such as expert help with blood pressure checks for the over 40s.

  • Convenient, clinical care - All pharmacists train for at least 5 years in the use of medicines and can help with lots of common conditions and minor illnesses, such as colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains. GPs can refer you to see a pharmacist for a range of common conditions.

  • Advice about your health concerns -Pharmacists know when to refer you to another health care professional or doctor if you need to see one.

  • Private consultations - Most pharmacies have a private consultation room where you can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard. Pharmacies provide services such as flu & Covid vaccinations to eligible groups.

  • Extended opening hours, and a walk-in service - Pharmacies often offer extended opening hours in the evenings and at weekends, and there is no need to book an appointment –just walk in. For a full list of services and details of where to find your local pharmacy, search ‘NHS pharmacy advice’.

  • Reminder - Check that you have enough of your regular prescription medicines to cover you over the Christmas and New Year as both pharmacies and Surgeries will be closed. You can pop in and discuss with your pharmacy when you will need to order by and what can be done in the event of you running out.



Local Mental Health Services

Mental Health Crisis is when your mood and behaviour get worse very quickly and you feel like you can’t cope. If you, or someone you know is struggling, you can seek help today.

  • When worries start to get on top of you –family or work stress, or cost of living pressures –it's hard to know when to reach out.

  • Trusted professionals are available, 24 hours a day, every day to provide confidential advice on the support available.

There is help available 24/7 through the South West London and St George's (SWLSTG) and South London and Maudsley (SLAM) crisis lines. Please only attend A & E if it is a life-threatening emergency.


Call the SWLSTG crisis line at 0800 028 8000 if you live in Wandsworth, Merton, Sutton, Kingston, or Richmond.


Call the SLAM crisis line at 0800 731 2864 if you live in Croydon.

 

You can visit the SWL Healthier Together website here.

 

The SWL Healthier Together site provides trusted information from local health experts, improving the lives of pregnant women, babies, children and young people throughout South West London.

 

The resources on the Healthier Together website have been developed in partnership between parents and healthcare professionals from across South West London. You'll find clear information on common childhood illnesses, including advice on what 'red-flag' signs to look out for, where to seek help if required, what you should do to keep your child comfortable and how long your child's symptoms are likely to last.

 

Most importantly, the resources are used not only by parents but also by healthcare professionals. This means that you and your child consistently receive high quality care, irrespective of which healthcare provider you take them to see, and their advice is likely to mirror that on the Healthier Together website. Reducing unnecessary variation improves the overall quality of care and reduces the parental anxiety that inconsistent advice generates.

 

Cold Weather Advice

 

  • Keep in contact with older or vulnerable family and neighbours. Take a few minutes to ask if they need any shopping or medicines and make sure they are warm and comfortable and can make all the difference.

  • These are challenging times with cost-of-living concerns, but Simple Energy Advice provides free advice and many organisations are opening their doors and offering ‘warm spaces’ to help keep you warm this winter.

  • Remember that cold weather makes us all more vulnerable to a range of winter illnesses such as flu, coughs, and colds, so please get your free flu jab and Covid-19 seasonal vaccine.



For Mental health support over the holidays for South West Londoners, click here.

For contacts over the festive holiday period, click here.

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