As summer approaches we look forward to traveling, vacationing, attending events and enjoying more time outdoors. There are some common things to do to stay safe throughout the summer and avoid illness due to long days and enjoying good weather.
COVID-19 is not gone, we are all learning to live with it. Fortunately the vaccine has become highly effective in preventing serious illness and antiviral treatment is now available for those in need. However in recent weeks we have seen a small, but steady increase in cases. We can all follow simple steps to help protect ourselves, family and friends.
All we can do is make sure we are up to date on our vaccinations. These remain our best defense against the virus. If you miss a booster or even the first dose, it’s not too late to catch it.
If you have a respiratory infection and any symptoms of high temperature or feel sick, try to stay at home or away from others – especially those who are elderly or weak.
If you meet others indoors, you should allow plenty of fresh air to enter. Open some windows to help with ventilation and in sunny weather you can plan to visit outside as well.
We should all practice good hand hygiene, washing our hands frequently with hot water and soap for 20 seconds. It may also be a good idea to cover your face in crowded places like public transport.
We should all follow the most up-to-date guidelines available here.
Weather can affect our health, especially those with more debilitating or long-term health conditions. If hot weather hits this summer, you can help protect yourself and others:
- Looking for people who can fight to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people who have an underlying health condition and those who live alone are particularly at risk
- Indoor Cooling – Closing the curtains in a room facing the sun can keep the temperature indoors low.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially children, young children or animals
- Try to stay away from the sun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when it is strongest
- Walking in the shade, applying sunscreen regularly can protect your skin, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat is helpful when outdoors 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 leaving. You may need vaccines to protect against serious diseases found in some parts of the world, and you may also need medicines, for example, to protect against malaria.
See the advice for your destination at TravelHealthPro and talk to your practice nurse, GP, pharmacist or a travel clinic 4-6 weeks before the trip to get the right advice for your trip. They can give you information about vaccines and additional precautions or medications that you need to take.
Be sure to check the COVID-19 rules and entry requirements for the country you are traveling to.
- Vaccines can prevent some diseases spread through food and water and some infections transmitted by insects, such as yellow fever or Japanese encephalitis. However, there are some diseases that are not preventable vaccines. Take first precautions to avoid food and water and insect bites, keep a first aid kit with you to manage common problems and know when to seek medical help
- Rabies is found all over the world and all animals can catch rabies and transmit it. Avoid contact with wild and domestic animals where possible. If you bite, scratch or lick the broken skin, immediately wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and seek local treatment advice. You may be advised to start post-rabies exposure 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 going to a place where there is rabies in animals and if you are taking activities that put you at greater risk of contact with animals or if you are going to a remote area where medical care may not be readily available.
Read more about travel sickness, vaccinations and travel health advice.
It is important to check if you are up to date about your routine vaccinations, including MMR and MenACWY, and help prevent the spread of the disease. If you are not sure if you have been vaccinated, contact your GP Surgery and if you are a parent or caregiver, you can look at your child’s red book (their health record). For some vaccines it is not too late to catch it. A list of routine NHS vaccines can be found here on the NHS website.
It is not too late to get the covid vaccine. It doesn’t matter what you dose. Visit the NHS website to find your nearest vaccination center or phone 119
For more advice on staying safe in the summer, visit the NHS website.
Outbreaks of monkeypox, mainly affecting gay or bisexual men, are on the rise in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Infections can be spread through close physical contact such as skin-to-skin contact, kissing, sex or sharing things like bed and towels.
Some examples of monkeypox symptoms include recent abnormal spots, ulcers or blisters on your body, fever, headache, muscle aches, chills and fatigue, as well as swollen glands.
Anyone can be infected with monkeypox, especially if you have close contact with a person with symptoms, including sexual contact. At a time when many people are hanging out and spending time together, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, especially if you have recently had a new sexual partner.
Contact a sexual health clinic if you have a blister with a blister and you have:
- Intimate contact, including sexual contact, with someone who has or may have had monkeypox (even if they have not been tested yet) in the last 3 weeks
- In the last 3 weeks in West or Central Africa
Avoid close contact with others until you get medical advice.
You can take some simple precautions to reduce the risk of being bitten or stung by insects. It is especially important to follow this advice if you have had a bad reaction to insect bites or stings in the past or you are traveling to an area where there is a risk of picking up a serious illness.
The following measures can help you avoid insect bites and bites:
- Cover exposed skin – If you are outside during the day when insects are particularly active, such as sunrise or sunset, wearing loose clothing and shoes can help you avoid bites. Apply insect repellent on exposed skin – Resistance containing 50% DET (diethyltoluamide) is most effective.
- Keep in mind that mosquitoes and horse flies are usually found near water.
Ticks are small spider-like animals found mainly in long grassy areas including forests, heathlands and urban parks. They attach to your skin and bite to suck blood. Bacteria in ticks can cause Lyme disease in some cases. Our blog has more details.
You can reduce the risk of being bitten by a tick if you:
- Stay on the sidewalk and avoid long grassy places while walking
- Wear appropriate clothing (a long-sleeved shirt and trousers) in tick-infested areas
- Check yourself for ticks while you walk in these habitats, and check again at the end of the day to remove any ticks
- Wear light colored clothes that can help you tick your clothes
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin
- Examine your skin for ticks, especially at the end of the day, including the area of your legs, arms and groin, and especially for children, check the folds of head, neck and skin (armpits, groin and waist) Animals. It is important that you remove the ticks as soon as you find them on your skin.
Watch our video on Lyme disease for more information:
Summer is a great time to enjoy a BBQ with family and friends. Ensuring that meat is not kept out of the fridge for long periods of time and cooked thoroughly can help prevent food poisoning. Washing hands before preparing food and after giving raw meat can also help spread bacteria.
Learn more about BBQ food safety here.