Clinically extremely vulnerable
People with serious underlying health conditions who are most at risk of severe illness from coronavirus have previously been advised by the government to self-isolate (known as shielding).
Advice for residents in the shielding category
This update is for everyone who has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. This includes those people who have been identified by the NHS as being clinically extremely vulnerable and those identified through the Covid-19 Population Risk Assessment.
We know that the pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone and recognise that it has been particularly hard for those who have been advised to take extra precautions.
Although cases of Covid-19 are currently higher than at other points during the pandemic and higher than the levels at which shielding was last introduced, we are now in a very different situation to April 2021. There are significantly fewer hospitalisations than seen when cases were at similar levels and there are high levels of vaccination: this means that the risk of catching Covid-19 is lower for everyone, including clinically extremely vulnerable people. This has allowed the Government to ease restrictions for everyone.
Shielding advice ended on 1 April 2021. Clinically extremely vulnerable people are now advised, as a minimum, to follow the same guidance as the general population. It is important that everyone adheres to this guidance.
The latest information that we have suggests that having two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine reduces the severity of the illness if you catch the virus. A third primary dose for people with a weakened immune system and additional booster doses for the adult population also further increase people’s immunity. However, as you may remain at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you were to catch Covid-19, you may wish to think particularly carefully about additional precautions you may wish to take. There is a separate guidance page for clinically extremely vulnerable people that contains some examples of additional precautions that you might consider taking.
Guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19
- Everyone on the Shielded Patient List should already have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine. If you have not yet received your first dose, please contact your GP, book your vaccination appointment online or call 119.
- If you have any questions, please call our helpline number between 9am 5pm, Monday to Friday on 020 7364 3030.
- meet outside where possible
- make sure the space is well ventilated if you meet inside; open windows and doors or take other action to let in plenty of fresh air
- consider whether you and those you are meeting have been vaccinated – you might want to wait until 14 days after everyone’s second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before being in close contact with others
- wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face
- consider continuing to practice social distancing if that feels right for you and your friends
- ask friends and family to take a lateral flow test before visiting you
- ask home visitors to wear face coverings
- From 19 July 2021, there are no longer any limits on the number of people or households that you can meet with. Social distancing rules have been lifted. Things you could do to lower your risk of infection:
- You are encouraged to go outside for exercise and can do so freely now. You can find tips and advice on staying active and eating healthily at NHS Better Health. You can find more information about local free support.
- Social distancing measures had ended in the workplace, and the government was not instructing people to work from home. However, due to increasing rates and the Omicron variant, the government has instructed that from Monday 13th December 2021, people should work from home if they can
- The Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme (furlough) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) came to an end on 30 September 2021
- From 1 April 2021, you became eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) on the basis of being advised to shield, given the lifting of shielding measures nationally. You may be eligible for SSP or ESA if you are sick or incapable of work, either due to coronavirus or other health reasons, subject to meeting the eligibility conditions.
- Clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and students should have returned to their school or other educational setting.
- Although the legal requirement to wear a face covering was lifted in the summer, from Friday 10th December 2021, rules on mandatory face coverings will return to “most public indoor venues”. This is due to increasing rates and the emergence of the Omicron variant
- You can continue to ask for short-term help from the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme with telephone support if you are feeling lonely, or for help with collecting shopping (if you are unable to use any of the online or telephone shopping options now available through most supermarkets), medication or other essential supplies that you need delivered to your home. You can ask for help by visiting NHS Volunteer Responders or calling 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).
- You should continue to seek support from the NHS for your existing health conditions. You can access a range of NHS services from home (Health at Home). If you have an urgent medical need, call NHS 111 or, for a medical emergency, dial 999.
- The measures you may have taken to respond to COVID-19 may have triggered feelings of worry, distress or loneliness. These feelings are a completely normal response to an unprecedented period of disruption. You can visit the Every Mind Matters website for advice and practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing and manage your mental health. You can find more information about local free support.
The most effective form of protection from COVID-19, even for the most vulnerable, is vaccination. The Covid-19 vaccines are effective for the majority of clinically extremely vulnerable people and provide a significant amount of protection against the virus, including to those who are immunocompromised.
It is really important that you have both doses of the vaccine when it is offered to you. People with a weakened immune system may also be offered a third primary dose. It is also important that other members of your household get vaccinated as this will lower your chances of catching COVID-19. Additionally, you will be offered a booster dose over the coming months to further increase your level of protection. You should take this when it is offered to you.
There are a small number of immunocompromised or immunosuppressed people who may be less well protected by the vaccines. Those individuals should know who they are, will always have been at risk of infectious disease and, pre-pandemic, they would have had to make individual risk assessments in consultation with their GP or clinician. If this applies to you then you should get in contact with your GP or specialist to discuss this further. All vaccines offer some level of protection, so you should still get vaccinated against COVID-19 even if you are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed. As mentioned above, you may also have been offered a third primary dose if you fall within this category.
You can find more information about Covid-19 vaccines (Covid-19 vaccination: easy-read leaflets) and local vaccination sites.
Appointments at local clinics can be booked through our online system or by calling the council helpline 020 7364 3030 (Monday- Friday, 9am - 5pm).
Children and young people
All young people aged 12-17 are now eligible to get two doses of the Covid-19 vaccination, following the latest advice from the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) - this means that all 12-17 year olds are now recommended to have two doses. Find out more information on vaccinations for children here.
You can find more information for eligible children and young people on Covid-19 vaccination.
Everyone is advised to take PCR tests if experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. Alongside this, rapid tests (lateral flow tests) should be taken regularly which can identify those carrying the virus but not showing symptoms.
You can find more Government information about Covid-19 testing and local Covid-19 testing options.