How to help you and your loved-ones stay well this winter

Your local NHS today issues an eight-point ‘call to action’ to help Isle of Wight residents to stay well this winter. 

With the continuing threat posed by COVID-19, and the challenges facing the NHS across the area, it is important that the island’s GP practices and hospital facilities are kept as clear as possible for those people who most need them.

Doctors who work in surgeries and at St Mary’s Hospital in Newport urge you to please: 

* Get your COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as you become eligible for it AND are invited to receive it
* Take up your offer of your first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if you have not already done so. You will not only be protecting yourself – but everyone you come into contact with

* Get your flu jab this season if you are eligible – COVID-19 is not the only respiratory virus circulating, especially in the winter when you have flu/cold/coughs/colds

* If you think you have COVID-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough, loss of taste/smell) then please self-isolate and book yourself in for a PCR test*

* Ensure you have a good supply of over-the-counter medicines and treatments at home, such as paracetamol and plasters, so that you can self-care if you become unwell

* your pharmacies are a great resource. They can help with minor ailments and you don’t need an appointment to attend

* Use NHS 111 online – alongside the Urgent Treatment Centre at St Mary’s for help

* Follow the national advice about Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air where possible – not just for the pandemic, but to help keep down the number of other bugs which thrive in the winter months. 

Dr Michele Legg, an island GP and the Clinical Director (Isle of Wight), for NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Flu and COVID-19 can affect anyone, but if you have a long-term health condition, the effects can make it worse even if the condition is well managed and you normally feel well so we do ask people to please ensure that they have their COVID-19 and flu vaccinations when invited to do so. 

“The NHS aims to be there for you when you need us but there are a number of ways that we can all help and be prepared for common illnesses such as colds by keeping our medicine cabinet stocked with a number of over-the-counter medicines that you can buy from your pharmacist.” 

Steve Parker, Medical Director for the Isle of Wight NHS Trust said: “Winter is always a challenging time with high demand for our services. The pandemic brings additional pressures and our teams are working hard to deliver high quality care. 

“Our community has been so supportive in following the guidelines and helping to protect the NHS as COVID continues to have an impact on all our lives. It is hugely important that we don’t take our foot of the pedal now and do all we can to keep ourselves well this winter. Please have your flu and COVID vaccinations and wear a mask in public spaces.  

“If you need health care advice, consider all options including community pharmacies and visit 111 online.  Also please ensure you have got your repeat prescription before the Bank Holiday weekends that are coming up. These steps will allow general practices and the hospital to focus on those patients that need our services most.” 

Notes to reporters:

  • For the latest advice on the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the Isle of Wight visit the CCG website
  • Visit more advice on staying well in winter.
  • For a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, you can order a home test kit or book an appointment at a test site. 
  • The ‘Hands. Face. Space and Fresh Air’ public information campaign urges people to continue to wash their hands, cover their face and make space to control infection rates.
  • To check your eligibility for the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster vaccine or to find a service visit 
  • Over-the-counter medicines available at your pharmacist include:
    * Painkillers like paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin, which can help with colds and flu by reducing aches, pains and high temperatures
    * Antihistamines, for dealing with allergies and insect bites
    * Antacid, which will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief if you have stomach ache or heartburn
    * Cough medicines
    * Oral rehydration salts
    , which will restore your natural balance of fluid and minerals after diarrhoea or being sick.