Are you in a high risk group?
You are in a high risk group or clinically vulnerable if you are:
Aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions).
Under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
- Chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
- A weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
- Being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
If you are pregnant
The Royal College of Obstetricians and and Gynaecologists have produced guidelines if you are pregnant during the coronavirus outbreak. You can also follow Hereford County Hospital's Maternity Ward on Facebook.
The government has set out guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable on the future of the shielding programme.
The guidance changed on 6 July, 1 August and again on 13 October, based on clinical evidence.
Shielding and other advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable has been and remains advisory.
What are the changes?
While previous shielding guidance helped protect those most at risk from Covid-19, many people reported that they found the advice very restrictive.
Since the introduction of shielding, many new measures have been introduced in our communities, including the rule of 6, Covid-secure workplaces, and the widespread use of face coverings, all of which have reduced the need for such restrictive shielding advice.
The government also has better data on new infections and has introduced local COVID alert levels, with rules and advice based on the level of risk in a local area. This updated guidance offers additional advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable over and above local COVID alert level guidance. This new guidance aims to strike a better balance between providing practical steps to help keep you safe while reducing some of the potentially harmful impacts on mental and social wellbeing that were associated with previous strict shielding. It sets out the steps clinically extremely vulnerable people can take to protect themselves at each local COVID alert level.
In the future, the government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time. This will only apply to some, but not all, very high alert level areas and will be based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. The government will write to you separately to inform you if you are advised to shield. You are not advised to follow formal shielding advice again unless you receive a new shielding notification advising you to do so. From now, refer to the new local COVID alert levels for your area.
If you require additional care and support
Whatever the current local COVID alert level in your area, it is important that you continue to receive the care and support you need to help you stay safe and well. Providers of social care and medical services are making every effort to ensure services remain open and as safe as possible. You should continue to contact us if you have any ongoing social care needs.
You should also continue to seek support from the NHS for your existing health conditions. You can access a range of NHS services from home, including ordering repeat prescriptions or contacting your health professional through an online consultation. Find out more on the NHS website, or download the NHS App. If you have an urgent medical need, call NHS 111 or, for a medical emergency, dial 999.
You should continue to access support from local charities and organisations, as well as NHS Volunteer Responders. As well as helping with shopping and medicines delivery, NHS Volunteer Responders can help with a regular, friendly phone call, either with someone else who has previously been advised to shield or with different volunteers and transport to medical appointments.
There are a number of ways that those who are shielding can access food and other essentials:
- Make use of the supermarket priority delivery slots that are available for this group. Online registration closed on 1 August but if you registered before then and got priority access to supermarket deliveries you'll keep it
- Use the many commercial options now available for accessing food, including telephone ordering, food box delivery, prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers. A list has been shared with local authorities and charities
- If you need urgent help and have no other means of support, contact us to find out what support services are available in your area
- For anyone facing financial hardship, the government has made £63 million available to local councils in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials
Support will continue to be available through the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme
NHS Volunteer Responders can support you with:
- Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies
- A regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks and
- Transport to medical appointments
Please call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support or speak to your health care professional for transport support. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf. More information is on the NHS Volunteer Responders website.
Any carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit. They should follow social distancing guidance where close or personal contact is not required.
If your carer is a paid carer visiting you in your home, they will find information on the provision of home care and personal protective equipment (PPE) in the provision of home care guidance and PPE for care workers delivering homecare guidance. If you provide unpaid care, see the guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family.
If you receive direct payments we also have detailed guidance on personal care and direct payments.
Mental health support
It is also important to look after your mental health. Go to the Every Mind Matters website for advice and practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing and manage your mental health during this pandemic. If you or someone you care for are experiencing a mental health crisis, we urge you to make contact with a local health professional immediately.
Socialising inside and outside the home
Continue to maintain strict social distancing, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
Try to keep the number of social interactions that you have low. The fewer social interactions you have, the lower your risk of catching Covid-19.
Continue to observe strict social distancing with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. The more you socially distance from others, the less likely you are to catch Covid-19. You do not need to maintain social distancing within your home with members of your household but should stay at least 2 metres away from other people visiting your home.
If the rules allow you to meet with others outside your household, your risk of catching Covid-19 is lower if you meet them outdoors. If you meet indoors, keep the area well ventilated with fresh air, for example by opening the window.
Try to reduce the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing, or where other people’s activities may reduce the likelihood of individuals maintaining social distancing.
Going to shops and pharmacies
Consider shopping or going to the pharmacy at quieter times of the day. You must wear face coverings in all shops unless you are exempt.
You might also want to ask friends, family or volunteers to collect medicines for you.
You can also ask your local pharmacy if they will deliver the medication to you either themselves or through a volunteer.
The NHS Volunteer Responders programme is available to help support those who need it. Volunteers can collect and deliver shopping, medication and other essential supplies. Call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week to self-refer or visit the NHS volunteer responders website for further information.
The government is committed to supporting local councils and voluntary sector organisations to respond to those who have specific support needs and requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic. Details of coronavirus support and advice available.