As Summer approaches, we look forward to traveling, vacationing, attending events, and enjoying more time outdoors. There are some simple things we can all do to stay safe throughout the summer and prevent illness as we enjoy longer days and better weather.
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COVID-19 has not gone away, we are all learning to live it. Fortunately, these vaccines continue to be highly effective in preventing severe disease and antiviral treatments are now available to those who need them. However in recent weeks we have seen a small, but steady increase in cases. We can all follow these simple steps to help protect ourselves, family and friends.
The best thing we can all do is make sure that we are up-to-date on our vaccinations. This remains our best form of defense against the virus. It’s not too late to catch up if you miss a booster or even the first dose.
If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection and a high temperature or are not feeling well, try staying at home or away from other people – especially those who are elderly or vulnerable.
If you meet other people in the room, you should let plenty of fresh air in. Open some windows to help with ventilation and in fine weather you can also plan to meet outside.
We should all continue to practice good hand hygiene, washing our hands frequently for 20 seconds with hot water and soap. It may also be a good idea to wear a face covering in crowded places such as public transport.
We should all keep abreast of the latest guidelines which can be found here.
Weather can affect our health, especially in those who are more vulnerable or have long-term health conditions. If hot weather hits this summer, you can help protect yourself and others by:
- Seek out those who may be struggling to keep themselves cool and hydrated – the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and those living alone are particularly at risk.
- Keep it cool indoors – closing the curtains in sun-facing rooms can keep the indoor temperature lower
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
- Never leave anyone in a closed and parked vehicle, especially babies, small children or animals
- Try not to be exposed to the sun between 11am and 3pm, when it is strongest
- Walking in the shade, applying sunscreen regularly can protect your skin, and it can be helpful to wear a wide-brimmed hat when outside on a sunny day.
Traveling abroad this year?
If you are planning to travel outside the UK, check the health information for your destination before you leave. You may need a vaccine to protect you from serious diseases found in some parts of the world and you may also need treatment, for example to protect you from malaria.
Check the suggestions for your destination on TravelHealthPro and talk to your practice nurse, GP, pharmacist or travel clinic ideally 4-6 weeks before your trip to get the right advice for your trip. They can give you information about vaccinations and any additional precautions or treatment you may need to take.
Be sure to check the COVID-19 rules and entry requirements for your destination country.
- Vaccines can prevent a number of different infections including some diseases that are spread through food and water and some diseases that are spread by insects, such as yellow fever or Japanese encephalitis. However, there are a number of diseases that cannot be prevented by vaccines. Take basic precautions with food and water and avoid insect bites, carry a basic first aid kit to deal with common problems and know when to seek medical help
- Rabies is found all over the world and any animal can catch rabies and transmit it. Avoid contact with wild and domestic animals whenever possible. If you are bitten, scratched, or licked on broken skin, wash the area immediately with soap and water, and seek local medical attention. You may be advised to start post-exposure rabies treatment, but always contact your GP when returning to the UK to complete any necessary treatment. More information about rabies is available in this leaflet for travelers. Check if you are visiting places where there is rabies in animals and consider getting a pre-exposure rabies vaccine if you are doing activities that could put you at greater risk of contact with animals or if you are visiting remote areas where medical care services may not be available .
Read more about travel sickness, vaccinations, and travel health advice.
Checking you are up to date on your regular vaccinations including MMR and MenACWY is important and helps to prevent the spread of disease. If you are not sure which vaccine you have, call your surgeon and if you are a parent or caregiver you can look in your child’s red book (their health record). For some vaccines, it’s never too late to catch up. A list of routine NHS vaccines can be found on the NHS website here.
It’s still not too late to have a COVID vaccine. It doesn’t matter which dose you have to pay for. Visit the NHS website to find the nearest vaccination center or call 119
For more advice on staying safe during the summer, visit the NHS website.
The Monkeypox outbreak, mostly affecting gay or bisexual men, is growing in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. The infection can be spread through close physical contact such as skin-to-skin contact, kissing, sex or sharing things like bedding and towels.
Some examples of symptoms of Monkey Pox include recent unusual spots, boils or blisters on your body, fever, headache, muscle aches, chills and fatigue and swollen glands.
Anyone can get monkeypox, especially if you have had close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has symptoms. During a time when more people are hanging out and spending time together, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms, especially if you’ve recently had a new sexual partner.
Call a sexual health clinic if you develop a rash with blisters and you have:
- in close contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has or may have had monkeypox (even if they haven’t been tested) in the past 3 weeks
- to West or Central Africa in the last 3 weeks
Avoid close contact with other people until you have received medical advice.
There are some simple precautions you can take to reduce your risk of being bitten or stung by insects. It is especially important to follow this advice if you have had an adverse reaction to insect bites or stings in the past or you are traveling to an area where there is a risk of serious illness.
The following steps can help you avoid insect bites and stings:
- Cover exposed skin – if you are outside at a time when insects are most active, such as sunrise or sunset, wearing loose-fitting clothing and wearing shoes can help you avoid being bitten. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin – insect repellent containing 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) is most effective.
- Keep in mind that mosquitoes and horseflies are usually found near water.
Fleas are small, spider-like creatures that are mainly found in forests, meadows and areas with long grass, including urban parks. They stick to your skin, and bite to suck blood. The bacteria in ticks can cause Lyme disease in some cases. Our blog has more details.
You can reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick if you:
- Stay on the trails and avoid long grass areas when walking out
- Wear appropriate clothing in lice-infested areas (long sleeves and long pants)
- Check yourself for fleas when you’ve walked this habitat, and check again at the end of the day to remove any fleas
- Wear light colored fabrics that can help you spot the tick marks on your clothes
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin
- Check your skin for lice, especially at the end of the day, including on the legs, arms and groin area, and especially for children, check around the head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin, and belt) and check children You and any pets. It’s important to get rid of lice as soon as possible if you find them on your skin.
Watch our video on Lyme disease for more information:
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy BBQ with family and friends. Making sure meat isn’t left out of the fridge for a long time and is thoroughly cooked can help prevent food poisoning. Washing your hands before preparing food and after handing raw meat can help prevent the spread of bacteria as well.
Learn more about BBQ food safety here.