England is currently in a national lockdown. The government is advising all people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to shield. You should continue to shield even if you have had your COVID-19 vaccinations.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you should get a new letter advising you to shield.
What does shielding involve?
The government’s shielding advice aims to help you protect yourself from infection. 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 can go outdoors to exercise but you should stay at least 2 metres away from people who aren’t part of your household or support bubble. 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.
- You can go to medical appointments, including your appointment to be vaccinated.
- Work from home if at all possible. If you can’t work from home, you should not go to work. You might be eligible for the furlough scheme, or you might be able to claim statutory sick pay or employment and support allowance.
- If you need support to work at home, you might be eligible for help through the Access to Work scheme.
- Other people in your household can still go to work if they can't work from home. Children in your household can continue to go to school if schools are open.
- Children who are extremely vulnerable should not go to school if they have been advised to shield. Their school should provide home-learning resources.
- Try to stay at least 2 metres away from other people in your household or support bubble if you can. This is especially important if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 or if they have been advised to self-isolate.
- 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.
- Register for priority supermarket deliveries, if you don't already have them.
- 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, or for help with transport to and from medical appointments.
- Continue to access your healthcare. This might involve home visits, or phone or video appointments.
- 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.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should receive a letter from the government with more detailed advice.
You should continue to go to hospital or GP appointments unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Some appointments might be carried out remotely (for example, by phone or online). In-person appointments are still happening when they are needed. NHS Health at home has more information on accessing healthcare remotely.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you are in a priority group for vaccination against COVID-19. You will be contacted to make an appointment when it is your turn to have the vaccine. This might be at a hospital, a community healthcare setting, or a vaccination centre. All settings providing vaccination are COVID-safe.
Even after having the vaccine, it is important to carry on shielding while the impact of the vaccination programme is being assessed.
If you need help arranging transport to an appointment, contact the NHS volunteer responders on 0808 196 3646.
Vitamin D is important to keep your bones and muscles healthy. Your body makes it in your skin when it is exposed to sunlight. In the autumn and winter, or when people spend a lot of time indoors (for example, during shielding), your body can't make enough vitamin D from sunlight. You can get some vitamin D from foods such as oily fish, eggs and meat, but this isn't enough to support a healthy body.
The government recommends that everybody should take vitamin D supplements during autumn and winter. This year, the government in England is providing clinically extremely vulnerable people who registered with a free 4-month supply of vitamin D, with deliveries starting in January. You can register online to receive your supplements. You will need your NHS number, which should be on the letter from the government with more detailed advice.
Visit the government's guidance for more information about the scheme.
There have been some reports that vitamin D might reduce your risk of coronavirus by helping your immune system respond to the virus. At the moment, there is not enough scientific evidence to support this but it is being researched further in clinical trials.