Guidance on coronavirus for people who have lymphoma: England

The government in England has updated its advice for people who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill if they develop COVID-19. The government uses the term ‘extremely vulnerable’ to describe people in this group. It includes people who are affected by lymphoma.

View the full government guidelines on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

On this page, we summarise the main advice for people affected by lymphoma in England.

What are the latest changes to advice for people who are extremely vulnerable?

Guidance if you live in an area that is in a medium COVID alert level

Guidance if you live in an area that is in a high COVID alert level

Guidance if you live in an area that is in a very high COVID alert level

Guidance if you have been advised to shield again

What if I have a medical appointment?

What are the latest changes to advice for people who are extremely vulnerable?

At the beginning of the pandemic, extremely vulnerable people were advised to shield. The government paused shielding when coronavirus levels in the community dropped. Although virus levels are now rising again, there are more measures in place to protect you than there were at the start of the pandemic. For this reason, the government does not intend to reintroduce shielding in most places. Instead, they have updated their advice for extremely vulnerable people based on the ‘COVID alert level' (or 'tier') in their area.

Under the COVID alert level system, each area in England is given a rating (or ‘tier’) based on the rate of coronavirus infections in the area. The restrictions in each area are based on this rating. You can find out the COVID alert level for your area:

People who are extremely vulnerable should follow the same restrictions as everybody else in their area. However, there are additional measures you should take to reduce your risk of developing COVID-19. The additional measures depend on the alert level in your area.

If the area where you live and the area where you work are at different alert levels, you should follow the guidance for whichever area is in the higher level or tier.

Whatever the COVID alert level is in your area, it is important to follow strict social distancing and hygiene measures if you choose to go out:

  • Minimise contact with people who are not in your household or support bubble.
  • Avoid crowded places as much as possible.
  • Wear a face covering on public transport, in shops and in other indoor public spaces.
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from other people whenever you are out. You might find our 'distance aware' badge a helpful reminder to everyone to social distance when possible. The government also produces some downloadable 'please give me space' badges and cards.
  • Wash your hands often using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser if hand-washing facilities aren’t available. Try not to touch your face.
  • Do not meet up with anybody who has symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough and/or a loss of or change in sense of taste or smell).
  • Self-isolate and arrange to have a test for COVID-19 if you have symptoms of COVID-19. You should also self-isolate if anybody else in your household or support bubble has symptoms of COVID-19.

We have more information about general measures you can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You might also find our information on practical support and emotional support helpful.

Public Health England has produced a visual guide to working and living safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This applies to everybody, whether or not they are extremely vulnerable.

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Guidance if you live in an area that is in a medium COVID alert level (tier 1)

Follow the general guidance for people in your area.

  • You can meet people you don’t live with in groups of up to 6 indoors or outdoors. However, if you are extremely vulnerable:
    • It is especially important to socially distance from people who are not part of your household or support bubble. You do not have to socially distance from people you live with.
    • Meet outside if you can. The risk is lower.
    • Keep the number of people you see as low as possible. The more people you interact with, the more chance the virus has to spread.
  • Work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, you can go to work as long as your place of work is COVID-safe. You might find our article on safe working helpful.
  • Children who are extremely vulnerable can go to school unless they have been advised not to by their specialist or GP.
  • You can travel if you need to. However, if you are extremely vulnerable, you should try to avoid public transport if you can. If you have to use public transport, wear a face covering unless you are exempt.
  • If you need to go to the shops, try to pick a quiet time of day. Socially distance from other shoppers and wash or sanitise your hands frequently. Wear a face covering unless you are exempt.
  • Continue to access your healthcare as usual.

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Guidance if you live in an area that is in a high COVID alert level (tier 2)

  • Follow the general guidance for people in your area.
  • You cannot meet people who aren’t part of your household or support bubble anywhere indoors.
  • You can meet people you don’t live with in groups of up to 6 outdoors. However, if you are extremely vulnerable:
    • It is especially important to socially distance from people who are not part of your household or support bubble. You do not have to socially distance from people you live with.
    • Keep the number of people you see as low as possible. The more people you interact with, the more chance the virus has to spread.
  • Work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, you can go to work as long as your place of work is COVID-safe. You might find our article on safe working helpful.
  • Children who are extremely vulnerable can go to school unless they have been advised not to by their specialist or GP.
  • Avoid travelling if you can.
    • If you need to travel, walking, cycling or travelling in a private car is safer than using public transport. If you have to use public transport, wear a face covering unless you are exempt.
  • Keep your shopping trips to a minimum.
    • Shop online if you can, or ask friends or family to shop for you.
  • Continue to access your healthcare as usual.

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Guidance if you live in an area that is in a very high COVID alert level (tier 3)

  • Follow the general guidance for people in your area.
  • You cannot meet people who aren’t part of your household or support bubble anywhere indoors.
  • You can only meet people you don’t live with outdoors in public places (for example, parks, beaches or the countryside). You must not meet in groups of more than 6 people. However, if you are extremely vulnerable, the government advice is to:
    • Avoid busy places.
    • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • Work from home if at all possible. If you can’t work from home, talk to your employer about things they can do to help reduce your risk of coming into contact with other people. If there is no other option, you can go to work as long as your place of work is COVID-safe. You might find our article on safe working helpful.
  • Children who are extremely vulnerable can go to school unless they have been advised not to by their specialist or GP.
  • Avoid travelling into or out of areas that are in a very high COVID alert level.
  • Keep your shopping trips to a minimum.
    • Shop online if you can, or ask friends or family to shop for you.
  • Continue to access your healthcare as usual.
  • If you need extra support, contact your local authority.

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Guidance if you have been advised to shield again

The government is not advising most people who are extremely vulnerable to shield at present, even if you live or work in an area that has a very high COVID alert level.

However, in some local areas where the rate of coronavirus infection is particularly high, you might be advised to shield again for a limited time. If you live in an area where shielding is recommended, you should get a new letter advising you to shield. You don’t have to shield again if you don’t get a notification. Instead, follow the guidance based on the COVID alert level in your area.

What does shielding involve this time around?

The government’s new shielding advice is less restrictive than the shielding you might have followed earlier in the year. It aims to give you advice on how to protect yourself from infection without having as much impact on your wellbeing as previous shielding.

Some of the restrictions based on the COVID alert level in your area are the law. Shielding advice is guidance. Whether or not you choose to follow it is a personal decision.

  • Follow the general guidance for people in your area.
  • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • You cannot meet people who aren’t part of your household or support bubble anywhere, either indoors or outdoors. (This is a mandatory restriction in a very high COVID alert level.)
  • You can go outdoors but you should stay at least 2 metres away from people who aren’t part of your household or support bubble.
  • Work from home if at all possible. If you can’t work from home, you should not go to work. You might be able to claim statutory sick pay or employment and support allowance.
  • Children who are extremely vulnerable should not go to school if they have been advised to shield. Their school should provide home-learning resources.
  • Avoid travelling unless it is essential.
  • Don’t go to shops if you can avoid it.
    • Shop online if you can, or ask friends or family to shop for you.
    • Ask friends or family to collect any medicines you need. If you’re not able to do this, you are eligible for free delivery. Contact your usual pharmacy to arrange this.
    • Contact the NHS volunteer responders by phone on 0808 196 3646 if you need help getting food or medicine.
  • Continue to access your healthcare as usual.
  • You might be eligible for extra support with food, medicines and care. Your letter should tell you what support is available and how to access it.

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What if I have a medical appointment?

The government advises everyone to access medical assistance remotely (for example, by phone or online), wherever possible. If you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment while you are shielding, contact your GP or medical team to make sure you continue to receive the care you need.

It is possible that your hospital might need to cancel or postpone some clinics and appointments. You should contact your hospital or clinic to confirm appointments.

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