A BOLTON GP has urged people to 'pull together" to keep coronavirus and other infections at bay to get use through winter.

Dr Jane Wilcock (pictured below), who lives in Harwood, encourages us to make three resolutions this season to keep us healthy in mind and body.

She said: "My first winter resolution is to think ahead and positively about ‘hands, face, space.’

"The benefit of covid-19 precautions is that they reduce all chest infections. Flu virus is transmitted by droplets, aerosol, contaminated surfaces and human to human contact - just like coronavirus!

"Many children, often under one years old, are admitted to hospital each year with bronchiolitis caused by viruses, especially respiratory syncytial virus, RSV. In older children and adults, RSV infection causes a common cold but is a serious illness in babies.

"Our use of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing a face covering near people, avoiding mixing when we have acute chest infections, and coughing into a tissue or hankie, will reduce society’s usual high burden of winter infections."

She added: "It is a matter for us all, pulling together to think and act like health care professionals, to keep covid-19 and other infections as low as possible."

Dr Wilcock said her 'second resolution" is to think about the strain other people are under because of the pandemic ­— worrying about their, or their loved ones health, jobs, finances and the changes everyone has had to make.

"We should think about picking up the phone, that physical distancing does not mean emotional distancing, remembering to support our household bubbles, our relatives, friends and workmates. "There are lots of people volunteering, some with GoodSAM or other organisations, some as individuals, to offer practical support."

Family doctors and hospital services are still there for people to use although it is now usual to get a call back from the clinician first - to prevent the past experiences of people sat coughing near each other in waiting rooms.

The family doctor said her final resolution is to get a flu vaccination this week.

"Flu vaccination does not protect everyone but does provide immunity for many and if the coverage is high, producing herd immunity so reducing circulating flu virus in the population and protecting those most at risk of severe illness and even death," explans Dr Wilcock, "The vaccine is checked each year as the types of circulating flu vary and the vaccine is a combination, effective against 3 or 4 flu subtypes. "

She said the flu injection cannot give you people the flu and there are different types of injections for different groups.

People over 65-year-old are offered a TIV ­— adjuvant trivalent influenza vaccine, which improves immune response.

People under 65 year olds in health risk groups, like chest and heart conditions, diabetes etc are entitled to a free NHS flu vaccination, so people should check with their surgery.

There are guidelines for which vaccine is given in which circumstances, but in children under 18 years old LAIV, live attenuated influenza vaccine, is usually given as a nasal spray.

"There are circumstances when LIAV is not recommended and an injection is offered instead. This is in some uncommon health conditions and those who wish to avoid pork containing product.W

Children aged two years up to 11 years this is offered in school.

Other children are offered the jab if they have a health condition or live with someone who was shielding..

Children under six months old are not vaccinated against flu. Pregnant women should have a flu vaccine by injection at any time in their pregnancy. Health care workers and general public carers of people at health risk can also have a free flu vaccine.

This year it is hoped that people over 50 years old people will be offered a flu vaccine, but it will depend upon supply. Some people pay for a flu vaccination themselves, from pharmacists.

Dr Wilcock said: "So that is my third resolution, to protect myself, my patients, the NHS from becoming too busy by having a flu vaccination."

More information can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines.

And at www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine.