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Your health this winter

Choose the right healthcare for you and your whānau

Getting sick over winter is common but symptoms can often be managed at home safely. For symptoms that might need a bit more care there are a range of options available. Immunisation is your best protection.

Below is a guide to the best care and services available for different ailments or health situations.

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Access to free health advice

There are many ways you can access free health advice and help whenever you need it. You can access online resources any time, go to your pharmacy for healthcare advice or call free phone numbers.

Always call 111 first if it is a life-threatening emergency or you or someone you know is in danger.

  • Healthify.nz Reliable online information about health and medicines, self-care resources and videos can be found at the Healthify He Puna Waiora website Healthify.nz (previously Healthnavigator.org.nz).

  • Healthline Call 0800 611 116 any time for trusted health advice and information from nurses, paramedics, advisors, and doctors. You can choose to speak with a Māori clinician if you’re calling between 8am – 8pm.
  • Disability Helpline Call 0800 11 12 13 or text 8988. A dedicated team can support members of the disability community with COVID-19 testing, face mask exemptions, managing COVID-19 at home, any general health concerns, information and support. For assistance, you can access this using the NZ Relay Service.
  • Vaccination Healthline Call 0800 28 29 26 for COVID-19 and flu vaccination advice, information and booking assistance.

  • COVID-19 Healthline Call 0800 358 5453 for support, information and advice about COVID-19 specifically.
  • Family doctor If you don't have a GP, you can find one using this online directory.

Keep up those healthy habits

Our experience with COVID-19 has taught us a lot about how effective public health measures are at protecting us from all airborne viruses, such as the flu.

Let’s keep practising these throughout winter to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

Wear a face mask - we still need to wear face masks with visiting most healthcare services. It’s also a good idea to wear a mask when on public transport, in taxis, in indoor settings like retail stores and supermarkets, in poorly ventilated spaces, or when it is hard to physically distance from other people. 

Maintain good hand hygiene by washing and drying your hands thoroughly or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser.  

Sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue. Avoid touching your face, dispose of tissues in a waste bin immediately and wash or sanitise your hands. This will prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other viruses such as colds or flu. 

Get winter-ready

Be prepared, just in case.

Check you have everything you need to stay well including prescriptions and medicines.

Develop a winter plan for your whānau so family members know what to do if people become unwell. Familiarise yourself with what is expected of you by your employer if you become sick yourself.  

Get your Winter Wellness Kit together including painkillers, a thermometer, tissues, cold and flu medications, enough food and household items for a few days, and a good stock of the regular medicines you or your whanau will need.

Stay home if you’re unwell and get a COVID-19 test

If someone in your whānau gets sick, it’s a good idea for them to stay in one room or area until they are well.

Wear a mask to care for them, and if possible, get them to wear a mask as well. Regularly ventilate or air your home by opening windows and doors. Be sure to wipe clean any surfaces around the house that are frequently touched such as door handles, benchtops, and tables.

Talk to your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or health practitioner about your eligibility for COVID-19 antiviral medicines.  Read more about free COVID medicines here.

People with a high risk of becoming very sick from COVID-19, people aged 65 or over, Māori or Pacific people aged 50 or over are eligible.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you need to isolate for 7 days. Read more on the COVID-19 Health Hub.

Remember to register your RAT result at MyCovidRecord.health.nz to access further help and support. Free RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests) can be collected at participating pharmacies or ordered by calling 0800 222 478. Free RAT (Rapid Antigen Tests) can be ordered online here

Find advice on isolation, care and support on the COVID-19 Health Hub or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Whooping cough and flu / respiratory illness in young children this winter

If you have a sick child with breathing difficulties, seek medical care from your doctor immediately. You can call Healthline anytime on 0800 611 116 for free health advice and information.

This winter we are likely to see more respiratory (breathing) illnesses in children. A baby that has difficulty breathing could have flu, whooping cough or another illness which can make them sick very quickly.

Symptoms can also include fever, cough (can turn into a coughing attack, with vomiting and sometimes has a whoop sound) and a runny nose. Please seek medical advice if your child has any of these symptoms or has had a cough for two weeks or more.

Please keep your child at home if they are sick or awaiting whooping cough test results. Please don’t visit young babies if you are sick this winter. Flu and whooping cough are very infectious, and babies can get very sick from them quickly.

Vaccination saves lives

Free flu vaccines are now available from GP clinics and selected pharmacies for everyone aged 65 and over or for people who are most at risk if they get flu.  

Vaccination is one of the most important ways we can protect ourselves, our whānau and our communities from many infectious diseases.

    Even healthy people get the flu, and it can be serious. A flu vaccination is one of the best ways to stay well.

    • Make sure you have all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine – it will protect you from the worst effects of COVID-19. Find out more about COVID-19 booster vaccines and eligibility on the Unite against COVID-19 website,
    • Check that your family are up to date with their routine vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Some people missed their routine MMR immunisations due to COVID-19 and will not be protected from this highly contagious illness.
    • For more information on immunising your child visit the immunise website 

    Vaccinations are available at clinics, GPs and pharmacies throughout our region. 

    Find a clinic that accepts walk-ins (for COVID-19 and Flu) or book through Book My Vaccine.

    Look after your mental wellbeing

    The change of seasons can also be hard on our mental health. As we head into winter, it is important to look after our wairua (spirit), hinengaro (mind), relationships and overall wellbeing.

    There are a number of simple things you can do every day to support your mental wellbeing:

    • Stay connected with friends and whānau.
    • Stick to a schedule or routine as best you can.
    • Move your body daily.
    • Get outside and spend time in nature.
    • Limit your time online and the amount of news you follow.
    • Notice and appreciate small moments of joy.
    • Avoid alcohol and drugs as these can make things worse.

    Find more information and advice on our mental health services webpage.  

    If you’re feeling stressed, down or overwhelmed or just need someone to talk to, free call or text 1737 any time to talk to a trained counsellor. You can also visit Allsorts.org.nz for a wide range of resources.

    Last updated 1 June 2023.