The COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra chill to 2020’s winter, with many Aussies anxiously trying to stay healthy during the traditional cold and flu season. In our fight to manage the spread of COVID-19, we’ve gained a newly acquired regimen of handwashing, elbow coughing and social distancing.
The good news is that these measures (which, let’s face it, have almost become second nature) are also just as effective in keeping winter colds and flu at bay. Of course, government health advice still suggests that if you’re worried or showing any COVID-19 symptoms that you should get tested immediately. To check the latest information on symptoms, visit www.health.gov.au.
Avoid sharing where possible
Lockdown has been a challenge for us socially as we’ve had to maintain a healthy distance and minimise contact with friends and even some family members. As restrictions in some states ease, it’s tempting to return to old ways too soon. So, to reduce your chances of catching a cold or the flu, you should try to avoid sharing cups, plates, cutlery and towels with others. Even sharing a simple handshake can spread germs.
Keep surfaces sanitised
We’ve read the book, seen the movie, bought the t-shirt and survived the global pandemic – in part, by keeping it clean! Just as the COVID-19 virus can be spread from contact with surfaces, cold and flu germs can also be shared on things like your keyboard, phone, tablet, taps and door handles. Regularly cleaning these surfaces with antibacterial disinfectant can help protect you from COVID-19, as well as winter colds and flu.
Look after yourself and boost your immune system
This tip is pretty simple and makes a lot of sense. When your body is rundown, it’s more susceptible to infections, like cold and flu. Eating well and drinking plenty of water helps your body’s immune system stay in good condition to fight off disease. A good healthy diet that’s high in vitamins and minerals is the key to a strong immune system, so try to include a variety of fresh foods like fruit, nuts, vegetables and healthy protein-rich foods. Another good way to boost your immune system is to prioritise your sleep by getting between 7-9 hours and to exercise regularly.
Get the flu vaccination
A really simple way to avoid catching the winter flu is to get a flu jab. Vaccinations are quick and easy, with only some people experiencing mild side effects. They’re available from your local GP/medical centre, and most chemists for just a small cost.
Some groups may be eligible for a free vaccination including:
- Children 6 months to less than 5 years of age.
- People 6 months and over with specified medical risk conditions.
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 6 months and over.
- People 65 years and over.
- Pregnant women.
If you’re not in one of these eligible groups, the good news is that some private health insurance providers, like CUA, provide a benefit on most of their Extras products. Of course, if you have any questions about the vaccination, chat with your doctor and ask about your options.