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Flu jabs and socially distant Santa - how bad will winter be?

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Even Santa will have to have his vaccinations up to date this year

Even Santa will have to have his vaccinations up to date this year

Even Santa will have to have his vaccinations up to date this year

It may be too early to think of Christmas shopping, but it is one of the annual winter rituals ahead that are facing changes because of Covid-19.

Even Santa risks being done out of a job in shopping centre grottos as they can become an infection risk - the magic might be slightly lost if Father Christmas is forced to don a surgical mask and observe a two-metre distance.

What will the coming months bring? They look certain to be a rocky mix of the now normal daily grind of living with Covid-19, topped off with the triggering and lifting of restrictions locally and nationally as the infection rate rises and falls.

Future road map

The Government is soon to have a new national Covid-19 plan. It is expected to have a heavy emphasis on local lockdowns, meaning priming our testing and tracing systems as early as possible will be key.

For the public, this will increasingly mean short notice about new orders not to travel outside their county.

There will be temporary closures of hospitality trade venues, cancellation of hotel bookings and functions.

Pubs

The big question is whether wet pubs will be allowed to open. The legislation before the Dáil this week will give gardaí stronger powers to deal with publicans who are breaching Covid-19 rules, and that will benefit well-behaved bars.

Remote working

The call to work from home if you can is unlikely to change. It is not overly punitive like so many other measures.

Many companies have put systems in place and are managing, even though their expensive offices are nearly empty.

This means fewer people on public transport, on the streets and in shops.

Importantly, they are not congregating every day under the one roof.

However, working from home on a dark and dreary November day may need some mental readjustment from employees when compared with being on the computer in a sunny summer garden.

Flu vaccine

There will be more pressure this year on employees, particularly in the health sector, to get the flu vaccine. Flu and Covid-19 could be a lethal mix.

The vaccine cannot be made mandatory, but there is to be a risk assessment in areas of the health service that will put the onus on staff to get the jab.

Children will be offered the free vaccine via a nasal spray.

Avoiding A&E

The days of going to A&E for minor injuries is nearly over.

However, asking people to stay away from the emergency department can run the risk of those who are seriously ill not seeking help for life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks.

Several cancers are also detected after a visit to A&E.

Doctors there are highly experienced in health emergencies.

If in doubt, never hesitate about seeking hospital care.