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Have you been asked to shield?

Published: 18 February 2021

Image of man dropping prescription at doorstep

What this means for you

From 16 February, a new group of people will be sent a letter from the NHS or from their GP advising them to shield. More information about why certain people have been added to this shielding list and what shielding means is explained below.

Why have I been added to the shielding list?

Some people are classified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) which means they are more at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions. Since the start of the pandemic this group of people have been advised to shield.

As the pandemic continues, we learn more and more about the virus and how it impacts different parts of our society. With this in mind, NHS Digital has created a COVID-19 population risk assessment using the University of Oxford's QCOVID model, which has identified further pockets of our communities that might be more at risk if exposed to COVID-19.

This means an additional 1.7 million people will be added to the shielding list. More details about the model can be found on the NHS Digital COVID-19 population risk assessment web page.

The model combines a number of characteristics to estimate the risk of someone catching and then becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. These include age, gender, ethnicity, weight, health and lifestyle, and specific health conditions and treatments.

What does shielding mean?

Shielding is about minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The current shielding advice is as below. It is recommended that those who have been advised to shield do so until 31 March 2021.

  • do not leave your house except to exercise (with the people you live with or one person from your support bubble) or to attend health appointments including vaccination appointments
  • do not attend work, school or university. Work from home where possible
  • strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying COVID-19 symptoms
  • do not go out for shopping or to a pharmacy and when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact
  • do not travel

What does this mean for me?

Vaccinations and shielding

With new people being added to the shielding list, that equates to around another 820,000 adults who will now have priority access to having a vaccination.

People on the shielding list are advised to shield even if they've already received two doses of the vaccine. People on the shielding list who have not yet been offered a vaccine will be prioritised to receive a vaccine.

How long do I have to shield for?

The advice is to shield and stay at home as much as possible until 31 March, except to exercise with the people you live with or one person from your support bubble or to attend health appointments (including vaccination appointments). The only people able to visit you at home are those in your support bubble.

Do others in my household have to shield if they are not on the list?

No - shielding guidance applies to Clinically Extremely Vulnerable individuals only, which includes the new group of people added to the shielding list. Others living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable are not advised to follow this guidance but should continue to follow national lockdown guidance.

Am I able to attend work if I'm shielding?

If you've been told to shield, you're strongly advised not to attend work and should work from home where possible. If you cannot work from home and have received a formal shielding letter, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and should discuss this with your employer.

What support is available if I am shielding and can't leave the house?

Read the Picking up your medicines and prescriptions article for more information and advice.

Read the If you can't get out to get shopping article for more information and advice.

More information and guidance on shielding including all of the above topics, can be found on the guidance on shielding GOV.UK web page.

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