Protect yourself against colds, flu and more serious conditions

Winter conditions can be seriously bad for our health, especially for people aged 65 or older, and people with long-term conditions. The cold and damp weather, ice, snow and high winds can all aggravate any existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to illnesses that are more common in winter.

Being cold can raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. But there are lots of things you can do to stay well this winter.

For information and advice go to

Stay Well This Winter Booklet


Protect yourself and your family again flu

Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it’s sometimes called seasonal flu. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but for some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.

The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination. People should consider having a flu vaccination if they:

  • have a long-term health condition
  • are aged 65 years or over
  • live in a residential or nursing home
  • are the main carer of an older or disabled person
  • are a household contact of an immunocompromised person
  • are a frontline health or social care worker
  • are pregnant

Children over six months old with a long-term health condition should also be given the flu vaccination.This year some other groups of children are also being offered the flu vaccination. This is to protect them against the disease and help reduce its spread both to other children, including their brothers or sisters, and, of course, their parents and grandparents. This will avoid the need to take time off. The children being offered the vaccine this year, are:

  • all two, three or four years of age, i.e. born between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2014
  • all children in school years 1, 2 and 3, i.e. born between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2011
  • all primary school aged children in some parts of the country


Accessing the right healthcare

If you become unwell or are injured, it is important to choose the right NHS service to make sure you get the best treatment as quickly as possible - saving yourself time and inconvenience, and getting the most appropriate treatment.  

The number of people attending Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and calling 999 is growing each year.  It is estimated that at least one in four people attending A&E could have been treated more quickly and effectively elsewhere.

Swindon CCG wants to direct patients to the service best suited to their illness or condition. In many cases this may be self-care, advice from a local pharmacy, or treatment at an NHS walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.

A&E departments are there to deal with the most serious and life-threatening emergencies.  People should not to default to A&E if they have a less serious health issue, but choose from a variety of other services that are available to help them as described in the menu on the left of this page. 

In Swindon, there are numerous ways to access health care advice and treatment: