Cold weather can be hard on our health, so it’s really important we take steps to look after ourselves and each other during the winter months. There are lots of things you can do to keep well, and the NHS is here to help you. You will find lots of helpful tips and advice in the green panels below, including:
- Winter vaccinations: why, who and where to get your flu and Covid-19 vaccines
- How your local pharmacy can help you without an appointment
- Ways to contact your GP practice, how they can help over the phone and at evenings and weekends
- How 111 can help you 24 hours a day, including, booking you an appointment to see someone if needed
The national booking system for vaccinations is now open, and anyone who is eligible is encouraged to book. If you are contacted by the NHS to have your Covid-19 and flu vaccination, please come forward to have them. They will offer you the best protection this winter.
- Those aged 65 years and ove
- Those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (as defined by the Green Book)
- Pregnant people
- All children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
- Primary and secondary school aged children (from Reception to Year 11)
- Those in long-stay residential care homes
- Carers in receipt of carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person
- Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- Frontline health and social care workers
Covid-19 autumn booster:
- Residents in care homes for older adults
- All adults aged 65 years and over
- People aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, as defined in tables 3 and 4 of the Covid-19 chapter of the UKHSA Green Book on Immunisation, including pregnant people
- Frontline health and social care workers
- People aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression, as defined in the UKHSA Green Book
- People aged 16 to 64 years who are carers, as defined in the UKHSA Green Book, and staff working in care homes for older adults
How to book
- Book online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination
- Use the NHS App
- Call 119 if you don’t have online access, to book at one of the same sites
- Use text phone – 18001 119
- If you need British Sign Language, you can go to signvideo.co.uk/nhs119.
You can have your flu vaccine at your doctors’ (GP) surgery, or you can have your flu vaccine at a pharmacy if you are aged 18 years or over.
Need more information?
This page provides more information about these vaccinations and answers some of the most frequently asked questions:
Frequently asked questions
Which vaccinations should I have this winter?
Everyone over 65, those within clinical risk groups, close contacts of people who are immunosupressed and frontline health and social care staff should have both the Covid-19 vaccine and flu vaccine. If you are in these groups, having both vaccines is the best way to protect yourself over winter.
I've had the Covid-19 vaccine before, why do I need to have it again?
It doesn't matter how many Covid-19 vaccines you have already had - if you have not had one this autumn and you are in one of the groups listed - you should get the booster this autumn. This Covid-19 booster will improve your longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from the virus.
I've had Covid-19 this year - why do I need the autumn booster?
There are many strains of the virus and you can catch Covid-19 more than once. Having the vaccine provides the best protection possible for you.
I have not had any Covid-19 vaccines at all - can i still get one?
Yes - If you have not yet had any Covid-19 vaccines over the last two years - contact your GP/ local pharmacy or visit a community clinic to start your Covid-19 vaccines. More details of clinics can be found on our Covid-19 pages
Can I have both vaccines at the same time?
Yes, If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time.
Will the flu jab give me flu?
No, the flu jab cannot give you the flu. It is an inactivated vaccine, which means it does not contain any of the live flu virus.
Is it still safe to get the flu jab if I’ve had Covid-19?
If you've had Covid-19, it's safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.
I’m pregnant, will the flu jab harm me or my baby?
No it won’t. Having both the flu vaccine will help protect you and your baby. It's safe to have the vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.
How do I get my vaccinations?
Everyone eligible for both vaccinations will be contacted by the NHS/GP practice to arrange an appointment. You can also ask at your local pharmacy - or use the national booking system www.nhs.uk
Will the flu jab protect me from Covid-19?
No - Flu and Covid-19 are different viruses, requiring different vaccines to protect you from them.
Can you tell me more about the vaccine for children?
Please also visit our flu page where there is a section dedicated children's information on flu
Flu can be very serious in young children. The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:
If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they'll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years.
The nasal spray vaccine offers the best protection for children aged 2 to 17 years. They will be offered the flu vaccine injection if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them.
More information on the vaccine for children can be found here: Child flu vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
- You can contact your GP practice
- Find your nearest pharmacy offering the vaccine at www.nhs.uk/flu-pharmacy
- If you can’t get online, phone 119 for help arranging your vaccinations. Interpreters will be available on request
- If you usually get your care at home, please contact your GP practice to arrange a home visit with a local NHS service.
- If you are housebound or are not able to travel to a vaccination centre, your local NHS services will be in touch to make arrangements.
- If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, or are a British Sign Language (BSL) user you can go online at NHS.UK, use textphone 18001 119 or the NHS BSL interpreter service.
Flu myths busted - Ensuring you have the right information about the flu vaccination is important, there are some common myths, you will find these along with accurate NHS advice.
- More information on Covid-19 vaccination - where you can get them can be found on our dedication Covid-19 pages
- children aged 2 or 3 years
- all primary school children (reception to year 6)
- all year 7 to year 11 children in secondary school
- children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions
Local pharmacists are there to help with minor health concerns
Local pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can help with minor health concerns and illnesses, some vaccinations, as well as helping you with your medications.
They can see you face-to-face and provide confidential help on the same day, with no appointment needed.
For minor health concerns including: coughs, colds, upset stomach, skin or eye
infections, visit your high street pharmacy. This is a quick and convenient way to get medical advice.
Listen to one of our pharmacists expalining how they can help you in this video.
Self-care helps you to stay as healthy and as independent as you can
On a day-to day basis, it's about making small lifestyle changes that can have a big effect on your wellbeing.
Self-care can be as simple as calling a friend for a chat, doing a bit of exercise or joining a lunch club. It is also about managing any conditions you have in a way that puts you in control and improves your quality of life.
Some simple things you can do:
Take a look at our five areas of well-being to get you started: Connect, Be Active, Give, Take Notice, Learn. You can also find out more more about improving your mental wellbeing on NHS.UK
It is really important for your mental and physical health to keep in touch with friends and family over the winter. If you are on your own - there are lots of organisations that can link you up with other people and support services. Please visit:
Even a minor illness and ailments such as colds, headaches and diarrhoea can disrupt your life. Be prepared for most common ailments by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home.
Medications for these ailments can be bought at your local pharmacy, where you can also get advice.
Do make sure you always read the label before taking any medication.
NHS Health checks and screening
The NHS health check is your chance to get your free midlife MOT. For adults in England aged 40-74 without a pre-existing condition, it checks your circulatory and vascular health and what your risk of getting a disabling vascular disease is. This guide explains what happens at the check, when and how you get one, and how to lower your risk.
You will also be invited for regular cancer screening. Make sure you take an appoinmnt for screening when invited.
Your GP can help you in-person, online, or over the phone
If you need to speak to a GP or doctor, it is best to contact your usual practice as they will have your medical records to hand and can provide help based on this.
If you need prescription medication, your GP practice can arrange for it to be collected at a pharmacy that is convenient for you.
- Your GP practice can help you over the phone, online and in-person.
- To book an appointment you can use the online form on the practice website (PATCHS), use the NHS App, phone or walk-in to reception.
Our GP practices offer phone appointments.
We want to reassure patients that our GPs can help many people over the phone without the need to come into the surgery, and if you do need to be seen face-to-face, you will be booked in for an appointment
Over the phone your GP can:
- assess you
- provide help & advice
- organise tests & prescriptions
- make a referral
- book you in to be seen face-to-face, if they need to see you.
GP appointments are available at evenings and weekends
Call your GP practice to book and get details of local appointments or call NHS 111.
More information on GP services at evenings and weekends can be found here.
If you need to speak to a GP or nurse, get a sick note or find out test results, don’t forget you can use the online consultation form on your GP practice's website. The secure form will be responded to quickly and may save you a phonecall to the practice.
When you think you need A&E, think NHS 111 first
Get the right advice for an urgent problem
NHS 111 is a website and phoneline available all day everyday to help if you have an urgent medical problem.
Doctors, nurses, paramedics and fully trained advisors are available to ensure you receive the right care. They can:
- Find out what local service can help you
- Connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
- Get you a face-to-face appointment if you need one
- Give you an arrival time if you need to go to A&E
- Tell you how to get any medicine you may need
- Give self-care advice
You can contact NHS 111 at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111.
There are services available to support with mental health and crisis
The NHS provides a range of talking therapies for people who feel anxious and worried or down and depressed. If you need help you can refer yourself, you don’t need to go to your GP first
If you need help for a mental health crisis or emergency
you can get immediate help on our freephone lines from our trained mental health advisers and clinicians all day every day.
For residents in:
Ealing, Hounslow, Hammersmith and Fulham
Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington &
(Central and North West London Foundation NHS Trust)
If you have a serious or life threatening medical emergency, call 999 or go to accident and emergency (A&E)
A&E departments are for seriously ill people with life-threatening conditions and will be very busy over winter. We encourage you to use alternative health services if it is not an emergency.
During the winter months there is an increased risk that your child could become unwell. Often, the illnesses are not serious and can be prevented or treated safely at home, or with support from a GP or pharmacist.
Helping your unwell child booklet
A team of experts at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have developed a resource pack to help you care for your sick child. It will help you identify when an illness is minor and when it is serious. Click here to download the booklet.
Healthier Together website
Healthier Together, in collaboration with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, have produced information on a range of health concerns that you may be worried about as a parent or carer, including Covid-19, fever, and mental health. Visit the website.