Greater Manchester's Chief Medical Officer's guide to staying well over the holidays

The winter season is a time when many families reunite and celebrate the year, old and young, yet for some those days can be ruined by all-too-familiar illnesses. In order to minimise disruption to special plans, Greater Manchester’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Manisha Kumar, advises us all on prevention methods for staying healthy over the period. 

With Christmas just around the corner, I took a moment to interview Professor Kumar on her top three tips for ensuring that Christmas goes according to plan. 

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‘Thank you for giving me your time today, Professor, is there anything you recommend we can do now in advance of Christmas, to prioritise our health?’

‘So the most important thing you can do now, is that if you are due or eligible for any of the winter vaccinations, such as for COVID or flu, is to go and get vaccinated. COVID jabs are only available for another two weeks, whereas flu is available into January, and for most school-age children these will be delivered within school. Although both now are less severe for the majority of people, they can make the elderly and vulnerable very unwell, and as Christmas is a time for families of all ages to come together, getting vaccinated now will massively reduce that risk. You can get your injections from your GP or pharmacy.’


‘My second point is that if you do get unwell, even if you think it’s just a cold, stay at home until you’re better. This minimises the spread of coughs and colds.'

‘Thirdly, have a stock of medicines at home that you might need in case you are unwell. This is particularly important over the Christmas holidays when regular shops may be shut or have different opening hours. Things like paracetamol, ibuprofen, cough relief, or even those for indigestion or diarrhoea mean that you can be prepared for every eventuality without needing to call the NHS or cause yourself further discomfort. This should also of course make you feel better quicker. What I would always advise, is that if you are very unwell and unsure what is going on, please don’t hesitate to contact us at NHS 111 online or by phone, and we have staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week even over the bank holidays. Everybody wants to have a merry christmas, and hopefully this will help.’