There are some things you can do to help yourself stay well in winter. This includes getting your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations
It's important to get your seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccinations if you're at higher risk of getting seriously ill from these illnesses.
Who should have the flu and COVID-19 vaccines
You may be able get the NHS flu and COVID-19 vaccines if you:
- are aged 65 or over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2024)
- have certain health conditions or a learning disability
- are pregnant
- live with someone who has a weakened immune system
- are a carer
- are a frontline health or social care worker
- live in a care home
Most children can get the children's flu vaccine. This includes children who were aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023, school-aged children (Reception to Year 11) and children with certain health conditions.
How to get the flu vaccine
If you're eligible for an NHS flu vaccine, you can:
- contact your GP surgery to book an appointment
- find a pharmacy that offers NHS flu vaccination (if you're aged 18 or over)
- book a flu vaccination appointment online or in the NHS App (if you're aged 18 or over) – from 15 December 2023, you will not be able to book a flu vaccination appointment using this service
Some people may be able to get vaccinated through their maternity service, care home or their employer if they are a frontline health or social care worker.
You do not have to wait for an invitation before booking an appointment.
How to get the COVID-19 vaccine
If you're eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, you can:
- book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment online – from 15 December 2023, you will not be able to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment using this service
- go to a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site
If you're 65 or over, you're also eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which will help protect you from pneumonia. Ask your GP surgery.
Who's most at risk from cold weather?
Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. This includes:
- people aged 65 and older
- babies and children under the age of 5
- people on a low income (so cannot afford heating)
- people who have a long-term health condition
- people with a disability
- pregnant women
- people who have a mental health condition
Keep warm and get help with heating
Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
Heat your home to a temperature that's comfortable for you. If you can, this should be at least 18°C in the rooms that you regularly use, such as your living room and bedroom. This is particularly important if you have a health condition. It's best to keep your bedroom windows closed at night.
Check your heating and cooking appliances are safe. Contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they're working properly. You can find an engineer from the Gas Safe Register website.
Make sure your home is fire safe. For fire safety advice specific to you and your home, visit the online home fire safety check website to complete a safety check for your home.
Make sure you're getting all the help that you're entitled to. There are grants, benefits and advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills.
Find out more about ways to save energy in your home from GOV.UK, or call the government helpline on 0800 444 202.
Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives
Remember that other people, such as older neighbours, friends and family members, may need some extra help over the winter. There's a lot you can do to help people who need support.
Icy pavements and roads can be very slippery, and cold weather can stop people from going out.
Keep in touch with your friends, neighbours and family and ask if they need any practical help, or if they're feeling unwell.
Make sure they're stocked up with enough food supplies for a few days, in case they cannot go out.
If they do need to go out in the cold, encourage them to wear shoes with a good grip and a scarf around the mouth to protect them from cold air, and to reduce their risk of chest infections.
Make sure they get any prescription medicines before the holiday period starts and if bad weather is forecast.
If they need help over the holiday period when the GP surgery or pharmacy is closed or they're not sure what to do, go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
If you're concerned the person may have hypothermia, go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.