Patients in England classed as clinically extremely vulnerable patients should have received a letter last week from Savid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom, telling them the shielding programme is now over and "we will not be providing specific national guidance for you to follow".  

However, advice to shield remains in place in Wales and Northern Ireland, while Scotland is now giving advice to those at highest risk and isn't recommending shielding as a way to protect health, because of the toll on mental health.

Links to current official guidance 

Background: 'clinically extremely vulnerable' patients

Some patients have been identified as particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. For these 'clinically extremely vulnerable' patients, there is a significantly greater risk of very serious consequences, if they catch coronavirus.

The exact definition of this group varies very slightly between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The summary below is broadly applicable throughout the UK.

The 'clinically extremely vulnerable' group includes patients with the following conditions or undergoing the following treatments:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • 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 which 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 COPD
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as 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.

Specific advice has also been sent to clinicians who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable. The advice is that any advice regarding Covid-19 should be considered as part of discussions around general infection risk for this group of patients.

Updated: 28th September 2021.