You may have heard from friends, colleagues or through social media that people are coming down with the ‘worst cold ever’ or have even been struck down with it yourself. But with negative lateral flow results all around, we’re left wondering what’s going on with the nation’s immune systems?
With lockdowns and social distancing becoming the norm for the last 18 months, common coughs and colds took a backseat due to us all having to stay inside and not mix with the public. Now with the easing of lockdown, people are free to go out, meet with friends and get on public transport, so it’s no surprise the common cold seems to be spreading once again. For our immune systems that have had limited exposure to colds, it is expected that we will be hit a bit harder than usual this year. But don’t worry, our bodies haven’t lost the ability to fight off common colds and viruses – we’re simply just adjusting back to a more normal life.
The symptoms of the severe cold being dubbed the ‘worst cold ever’ do overlap with Covid, such as a continuous cough, runny nose, and headaches. For those who are double vaccinated, Covid presents itself similarly to a common cold, meaning the symptoms are even harder to tell apart. So, if you are feeling under the weather, it is extremely important to take a Covid test to rule out the virus. This has been emphasised by Professor Alan McNally, Director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection, who reported that “If you have any symptoms of respiratory infection, you should stay at home to prevent transmission and get a test done for Covid-19 to rule in or out”.
So how can we continue to keep the most vulnerable safe?
If you are elderly, or a person with health conditions, or you’re just particularly concerned about keeping yourself and your loved ones safe during the next few winter months, we advise the following steps:
- Stay up to date with your vaccinations.
With health officials concerned about the approaching ‘twindemic’, a combination of Covid and the flu circulating at the same time, the government are providing a massive flu vaccine roll out this year. More than 40 million people across the UK are being offered the jab, which includes all secondary school children 16 and under. Booster vaccine doses will also be available for those most at risk from Covid who have had a 2nd dose of a vaccine at least 6 months ago. It is safe to have both vaccines at the same time.
Active Care Group and The Huntercombe Group’s Chief Medical Officer, Amlan Basu, released a vaccination update to all staff that highlighted a common misconception – that the flu does not circulate at the same time as Covid and that you cannot be infected with both illnesses at the same time. These finding were drawn from a recent study commissioned by the Cabinet involving 3,000 adults. For this reason, the NHS have launched the biggest ever flu vaccination campaign to encourage the joint uptake of both flu and booster Covid vaccines to reduce the risks this winter.
All frontline and social care staff are eligible for a free flu vaccine and we are encouraging all our staff to get their flu jab ahead of winter. Please contact your local pharmacy to arrange your flu jab.
- Don’t ditch your mask just yet.
Even if you’re fully vaccinated from Covid-19, wearing a face mask can help protect yourself and others from passing on any unwanted germs. Simply keep one in your pocket to put on whenever you’re entering a crowded area such as public transport, restaurants, or shopping centres. England’s Chief Nurse has reminded the public that everyone accessing or visiting healthcare settings must continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.
- Being vigilant.
If you are particularly vulnerable, it is always a good idea to assess the risks in your everyday life. Maintain a good level of social distancing. If you have any symptoms and have a loved one who lives in residential care, resort to Zoom or telephone calls until you are symptom free to visit in person.