Protecting your health

Covid-19, adverse weather and air pollution all present health challenges. Here are some tips to help you cope.

here are a number of steps you can do to protect your health including keeping your vaccinations up to date and keeping aware of wider health issues like air pollution and poor air quality


Covid-19 is an illness caused by a virus called coronavirus.  Covid-19 symptoms are similar to colds and flu. They include a high temperature, a cough and a loss or change to your smell or taste. Vaccines are safe and effective and give you the best protection against viruses.

You can help stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) by getting vaccinated and taking care when meeting other people, such as meeting them outside.

Here is the latest information and public health advice on dealing with Covid-19

Some people may be eligible for both the flu and the Covid-19 booster vaccines. If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time.

Find out more about the COVID-19 booster vaccine and who can get it.

Seasonal flu

Flu is a highly infectious disease caused by the influenza virus. It is different from a common cold, and it occurs every year, usually in the winter.

Even those who had a flu jab in previous years would need another one in future years to stay protected. Some people are eligible for free flu vaccination under the NHS criteria. If eligible, you are encouraged to take the opportunity to protect yourself, colleagues, friends, and family from the flu.

Air quality

Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. Exposure to air pollution has health effects at every stage of life, from before birth into old age. The damage is sometimes gradual and may not be apparent for many years.

Indoor smoke also poses a serious health risk as well for people who cook and heat their homes with biomass fuels and coal. 

The Greater London Authority (GLA) estimated that in 2019 there were between 3,600 and 4,100 premature deaths attributable to air pollution (Source: ERG, Imperial College London)

Effects of air pollution may be divided into short-term and long-term effects, depending on the time lag from exposure until they make themselves felt, affecting a number of different systems and organs:

  • long term exposure to air pollution causes medical conditions, such as lung cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart and lung diseases.
  • in the short term, it causes people with asthma, respiratory and heart diseases to feel worse.

The council is committed to providing the latest information about clean air. We have put in place a series of measures to minimise air pollution and improve air quality. Please do your bit to improve air quality.

London Air has further information and profiles the current state of air quality in the Capitol.

Adverse weather conditions

  1. heatwaves

Some people enjoy the hot weather. However, there are health risks when it gets too hot. The main risks posed by a heatwave are:

 The most vulnerable groups of people affected by extreme heat  are:

  • babies, young children and older people (especially those over 75)
  • people with a serious chronic condition (especially heart or breathing problems)
  • people with mobility problems: for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke
  • people with serious mental health problems
  • people on certain medications, including those that affect sweating and temperature control
  • people who misuse alcohol or drugs
  • people who are physically active: for example, labourers or those doing sports

If hot weather hits during summer, make sure it does not harm you or anyone you know.

2. extreme cold weather

During the cold weather, some people are at increased risk of certain conditions such as:

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • respiratory diseases
  • falls and injuries
  • hypothermia

People who are most vulnerable include: those who are 65 years of age or older; those with long-term medical conditions such as heart, lungs or kidney disease; those with physical or learning disabilities; those with mental health conditions; those who are pregnant.

Infections such as seasonal flu and stomach bugs like norovirus, which can cause outbreaks, also increase during the winter months. All these could significantly increase the pressures on your health and social care system.

Here are some tips about how to stay well in the winter. It offers information about how to get help with your heating. You can also find out more from GOV.UK about benefits and financial support if you're on a low income.

Get further information about help during the winter.