You’re strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable to protect yourself.
This is called ‘shielding’.
- Do not leave your house.
- Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, family homes, weddings and religious services.
- Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
The Government is currently advising people to shield until the end of June and is regularly monitoring this position.
Handwashing and respiratory hygiene
There are general principles you should follow to help prevent the spread of airway and chest infections caused by respiratory viruses, including:
- wash your hands more often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser. Do this after you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, and before you eat or handle food
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
- cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home
Register for support
Everyone who has received a letter advising that they are clinically extremely vulnerable should register online if you need any extra support, for example, essential groceries delivered to your home.
Register even if:
- you do not need support now
- you’ve received your letter from the NHS
Register for support
Have your NHS number with you when you register. This will be at the top of the letter you have received letting you know you are clinically extremely vulnerable or on any prescriptions. Your GP Practice can also let you have your NHS Number
Letters to clinically extremely vulnerable people
The NHS in England has contacted clinically extremely vulnerable people with the conditions listed above to provide further advice.
If you have not received a letter or you have not been contacted by your GP but you’re still concerned, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.
Help with food and medicines if you’re shielding
Ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services.
If you cannot get the help you need, the government can help by delivering essential groceries and support. It may take time for support offered through this service to arrive. If you have not received a letter from the NHS then you may not be able to receive the support offered through this service. If you urgently need food or care, contact your local council.
Getting your prescriptions
Prescriptions will continue to cover the same length of time as usual.
If you do not currently have your prescriptions collected or delivered, you can arrange this by:
- Asking someone who can pick up your prescription from the local pharmacy (this is the best option, if possible).
- Contacting your pharmacy to ask them to deliver your prescription to you or to help you find a volunteer (who will have been ID checked) to deliver it.
You may also need to arrange for collection or delivery of hospital specialist medication that is prescribed to you by your hospital care team.
If you receive support from health and social care organisations, such as having care provided for you through the local authority or health care system, this will continue as normal.
Your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure that you are protected. The advice for formal carers is included in the home care provision.
Visits from essential carers
Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus. Everyone coming to your home should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival to your house and often while they are there.
If your main carer becomes unwell
Speak to your carers about back-up plans for your care in case your main carer is unwell and needs to self-isolate.
You should have an alternative list of people who can help you with your care if your main carer becomes unwell. You can also contact your local council for advice on how to access care.
Living with other people
The rest of your household do not need to start shielding themselves, but they should do what they can to support you in shielding and to carefully follow guidance on social distancing.
At home you should:
- Minimise the time other people living with you spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
- Keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
- If you share a toilet and bathroom with others, it’s important that they are cleaned every time after use (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first.
- If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while they’re present. If you can, take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing-up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
- Everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face and clean frequently touched surfaces.
If the rest of your household follows this guidance, there is no need for them to take the full protective measures to keep you safe.
If you do not want to be shielded
Shielding is for your personal protection. It’s your choice to decide whether to follow the measures we advise.
For example, if you have a terminal illness, or have been given a prognosis of less than 6 months to live, or have some other special circumstances, you may decide not to undertake shielding.
This will be a deeply personal decision. We advise calling your GP or specialist to discuss this.
More information on shielding can be found by clicking on the link below