Guidance: Shielding and protecting the extremely vulnerable

Introduction

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable you were advised to take extra precautions during the peak of the pandemic in England. This is known as ‘shielding’.

The government is advising that you do not need to shield at the moment. This is because the rates of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community have fallen significantly.

There is specific guidance on what will happen if there is a local lockdown in your area.

This guidance is government advice and it’s your personal choice whether to follow it.

 

What has changed

The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable is that shielding has been paused. This means:

  • you do not need to follow previous shielding advice
  • you can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible
  • clinically extremely vulnerable children should attend education settings in line with the wider guidance on reopening of schools and guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings
  • you can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low
  • you can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, while keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre, plus other precautions
  • you should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and that you maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace
  • you will no longer receive free food parcels, medicine deliveries and basic care from the National Shielding Service

For practical tips on staying safe, see the guidance on meeting with others safely.

You will still be able to get:

  • local volunteer support by contacting your local authority
  • prescriptions, essential items and food you buy delivered by NHS Volunteer Responders
  • priority slots for supermarket deliveries (if you previously registered for free food parcels)

 

If transmission of COVID-19 increases

You could be advised to shield again if the situation changes and there is an increase in the transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

Your name will be kept securely on the shielded patient list by NHS Digital. We will write to you if the advice changes. Any national changes will be reflected in this guidance.

In the event of a local lockdown, see the information below and visit your local authority’s website for further guidance.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you are advised not to enter any area where shielding advice is in place.

 

Definition of ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’

Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place some people at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Disease severity, medical history or treatment levels will also affect who is in this group.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people may include:

  • solid organ transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
    • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • people with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • people with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell)
  • people on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
  • other people who have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions

You can find out more about who is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable on the NHS Digital website.

If you do not fall into any of these categories, but you are still concerned, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.

 

Work and employment

You can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible.

You may be able to take up an alternative role or change your working patterns temporarily.

If you need support to work at home or in the workplace, you can apply for Access to Work.

Access to Work will provide support for the disability-related extra costs of working that are beyond standard reasonable adjustments an employer must provide.

 

Employment rights

If you have concerns, you can get advice on your specific situation and your employment rights by visiting the Acas website or calling the Acas helpline, 0300 123 1100.

If you have concerns about your health and safety at work, you can raise them with:

 

Statutory Sick Pay

As of 1 August, you are no longer eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on the basis of being advised to shield by the government. Your employer should help you to transition back to work safely and support you to maintain good hand hygiene and distancing practice in your workplace if you are unable to work from home.

 

For more information, click here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-pr…