Living with COVID is a strange thing. On one hand it’s right in your face. We all know someone who has had it or have even experienced it ourselves – hopefully with mild symptoms. Businesses that are part of our daily routine have had staff or stock shortages that have momentarily put us on the back foot. COVID has become part of what we live with and while we don’t have to like it, we’ve almost got used to it.
But for some reason, as restrictions ease and life as we know it (sort of) kicks back in, it also seems removed. Removed because we’ve now got other things on our mind. But mostly removed because all the precautions taken mean that the severity of the disease appears to have been reduced for most people. Or that is our (truly sincere/maybe wishful) hope. But hope is not always a reliable source to be basing decision making on. So, what should we be thinking about now we’ve been living with COVID for a while?
Cold weather isn’t great for our immune system. We miss the healthy effects of being outdoors in the warm sunshine (with sunscreen on of course!). Social distancing is harder as we move indoors and fluctuations in temperatures mean we get colds, or worse the flu. So, this year, as we live with COVID, think about the boosts your immune system might need to help you and those you love get through the winter months. Here are just a few of the most obvious ones.
Everyone can get an annual influenza vaccine anytime from mid-April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is generally June to September. Did you know that the following people are eligible for free flu vaccinations?
people aged six months to less than five years
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and older
pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy)
people aged 65 years and older
people aged six months and older with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe influenza and its complications:
chronic respiratory conditions
chronic neurological conditions
diabetes and other metabolic disorders
children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
Immunity against COVID-19
Boosters are recommended to maintain immunity against COVID. You are eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose if you:
are 16 years and older, and
completed your primary dose course of COVID vaccination at least 3 months ago.
You should get another COVID booster dose, also referred to as a ‘winter dose’, if you have had your initial booster dose 4 months ago and you are:
65 years or older
a resident of an aged care or disability care facility
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and aged 50 years and older.
Masks and Sanitiser
Those uncomfortable little scraps of material have played a key role during the pandemic. But they’ve also been useful at preventing other diseases; as has regular santising. Keep your masks and hand sanitiser handy in your ‘immunity’ kit this winter. At the very least they’ll stop your face from getting cold - and at best, they keep you safe.
Author: Lana de Kort, Manager, Clunes Neighbourhood House
Supported by the Community Response Fund, Victorian State Government