Guidance on coronavirus for people who have lymphoma: Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Some people are considered to be at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19). The government uses the term 'extremely vulnerable' to describe people in this group. It includes people affected by lymphoma.

View the full government guidelines for extremely vulnerable people in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

On this page, we summarise the main advice for people affected by lymphoma in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

What is the latest advice for extremely vulnerable people?

What is the guidance where I live?

- Northern Ireland

- Scotland

- Wales

What can I do to protect myself?

What support is available to me?

What if I have a medical appointment?

Vitamin D
 

What is the latest advice for extremely vulnerable people?

The government monitors levels of coronavirus across the UK. If levels of coronavirus change where you live, the guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable might also change. If this is the case, you should be contacted by letter or text message with further advice. Local authorities might also put restrictions in place. You can find out more about this on your local authority’s website or by calling the national COVID-19 helpline free of charge on 0800 111 4000 (9am to 5pm).

View the government's latest advice for extremely vulnerable people living in:

There are also additional precautions you can follow to help reduce your risk of infection.

If you live in Scotland and you are on the shielding list, you can sign up to receive SMS text updates to tell you about your risk of coming into contact with the virus in your local area. Text your 10 digit Community Health Index (CHI) number to 0786 006 4525 to register for this service. You will be contacted to confirm that you are on the shielding list.

If you live in Wales, you can sign up to receive text or email alerts about shielding. You will need the reference code from the letter you received from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales to register for this service.

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What is the guidance where I live?

The guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people varies slightly depending on where you live. There are additional precautions you can take to help minimise your risk.


In Northern Ireland

From 12 April, the advice to clinically extremely vulnerable people in Northern Ireland is being gradually relaxed. This is because levels of coronavirus infection are much lower than they were. The number of people being admitted to hospital or dying from COVID-19 is coming down quickly. This is partly due to the lockdown, but also due to the success of the vaccination programme. In addition, people considered most at-risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 have now been offered at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The Northern Ireland government guidance states that from 12 April:

  • If you cannot work from home, you can go to work as long as your employer has taken reasonable measures to make your workplace COVID-safe.
  • If you need to travel, walk or cycle if you can.
  • Avoid public transport if possible. If you can't avoid it, try to travel at quieter times of day and wear a face covering unless you are exempt.
  • Don’t go to shops if you can avoid it. Shop online if you can, or ask friends or family to shop for you. If you have to go to shops, try to go at quieter times of day. and strictly follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Continue to access your healthcare. This might involve home visits, or phone or video appointments.
  • Take precautions to keep your risk of infection as low as possible.
  • If you need support, contact the Advice NI COVID-19 service:

If you are concerned about the safety of your workplace, speak to your employer or your HR department, if you have one. You can also get advice from the Northern Ireland Health and Safety Executive or the Labour Relations Agency. The Law Centre NI offers free legal advice on employment rights.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should receive a letter from the government with more detailed advice. Other aspects of the guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people will be relaxed in future steps. You might have mixed feelings about this. Whether or not you choose to go out and see more people when it is permitted is a personal decision. If you do choose to, there are some measures you can take to reduce your risk.

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In Scotland

Mainland Scotland is in a national lockdown, with restrictions being gradually lifted from 2 April. Some islands are at protection level 3. The stay at home guidance includes information on shielding for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. You should also receive a letter from the government with more detailed advice. This is expected to last until 26 April

Until 26 April

Clinically extremely vulnerable people affected by Scotland's national lockdown are advised to take extra precautions to reduce their risk of infection.

  • Stay 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. 
    • You can go to medical appointments.
  • If you cannot work from home, you should not go to work.
    • You should get a shielding notification letter from the Chief Medical Officer. You can use this as a fit note for as long as the national lockdown lasts.
  • Avoid meeting people who are not in your household if you can.
  • Do not use public transport.
  • Don’t go to shops if you can avoid it.
    • Shop online if you can, or ask friends or family to shop for you.
    • You can sign up for priority access to supermarket online delivery slots.
    • If you have to go out for essential shopping or medicine, try to go at a quieter time of day. Strictly follow social distancing guidelines if you go shopping.
  • Children on the shielded patient list should not go to school even if schools are open.

The advice for extremely vulnerable people who live in parts of Scotland not affected by the national lockdown depends on the COVID-19 protection level (or 'tier') in your area.

From 26 April

From 26 April, most of Scotland is expected to move to COVID-19 protection level 3 or lower. This is because levels of coronavirus infection are much lower than they were. The number of people being admitted to hospital or dying from COVID-19 is coming down quickly. This is partly due to the lockdown, but also due to the success of the vaccination programme. In addition, people considered most at-risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 have now been offered at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

From 26 April, the advice to clinically extremely vulnerable people will depend on the COVID-19 protection level in your area. At level 3 or lower, you will be able to return to work if you cannot work from home. The Scottish government has issued advice on keeping safe at work for clinically extremely vulnerable people.

At level 3 or lower, you can also see more people if you choose to. You might have mixed feelings about this. Whether or not you choose to go out and see more people is a personal decision. If you do choose to, there are some measures you can take to reduce your risk.

Below is a summary of the advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people at each protection level.

COVID-19 protection level 4:
  • If you cannot work from home, you should not go to work.
    • You should get a shielding notification letter from the Chief Medical Officer. You can use this as a fit note for as long as level 4 restrictions are in place.
    • If you need a replacement letter, call the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000.
  • Limit how often you go shopping and try to go at quieter times of day. If you do choose to go shopping, strictly follow social distancing guidelines. Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering.
  • If you cannot work from home, speak to your employer to make sure there are measures in place to protect you.
    • Most workplaces can be made COVID-safe. If your workplace has put in suitable measures to protect you, you can carry on going to work.
    • If it is not possible to make your workplace COVID-safe, you should have a letter from the Chief Medical Officer. You can use this as a fit note for as long as your area is in level 4.
  • Children on the shielded patient list should not go to school. However, their medical team might advise that an individual risk assessment should be carried out.
COVID-19 protection level 3:
  • Limit meeting people who are not in your household.
  • Avoid indoor public spaces.
  • If you cannot work from home, you can go to work as long as your place of work is open and COVID-safe
    • Your employer should make the necessary adjustments to your workplace to protect you. Most workplaces can be made safe.
    • If you are concerned about the safety of your workplace, speak to your employer, your HR department or your union representative, if you have one. You can also get advice from ACAS, Health Protection Scotland or Citizens Advice Scotland.
  • Limit how often you go shopping and try to go at quieter times of day. If you do choose to go shopping, strictly follow social distancing guidelines. Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering.
  • Children on the shielded patient can go to school unless their medical team has advised otherwise.
COVID-19 protection level 2:
  • Limit the number of people or households you meet.
  • Avoid places where you can't stay at least 2 metres from other people ('one metre zones').
  • If you cannot work from home, you can go to work as long as your place of work is open and COVID-safe
    • Your employer should make the necessary adjustments to your workplace to protect you. Most workplaces can be made safe.
    • If you are concerned about the safety of your workplace, speak to your employer, your HR department or your union representative, if you have one. You can also get advice from ACAS, Health Protection Scotland or Citizens Advice Scotland.
  • If you go shopping, strictly follow social distancing guidelines. Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering. Try to go at a quiet time of day if you can.
  • Children on the shielded patient list should follow the same guidance as everybody else at protection level 2.
COVID-19 protection level 0 or level 1:
  • You can meet other people, following the same guidance as everybody else in your area.
    • At level 0, this is up to 8 people from up to 3 households indoors, or up to 15 people from up to 5 households outdoors.
    • At level 1, this is up to 6 people from up to 2 household indoors or outdoors.
  • If you cannot work from home, you can go to work as long as your place of work is open and COVID-safe
    • Your employer should make the necessary adjustments to your workplace to protect you. Most workplaces can be made safe.
    • If you are concerned about the safety of your workplace, speak to your employer, your HR department or your union representative, if you have one. You can also get advice from ACAS, Health Protection Scotland or Citizens Advice Scotland.
  • If you go shopping, strictly follow social distancing guidelines. Unless you are exempt, you must wear a face covering. Try to go at a quiet time of day if you can.
  • Children on the shielded patient list should follow the same guidance as everybody else at protection level 0 or 1.

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In Wales

Shielding ended in Wales on 31 March. The Welsh government issued updated advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people on 1 April. This is because levels of coronavirus infection are much lower than they were when shielding was reintroduced. The number of people being admitted to hospital or dying from COVID-19 is coming down quickly. This is partly due to the lockdown, but also due to the success of the vaccination programme. In addition, people considered most at-risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 have now been offered at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The Welsh government guidance states that from 1 April:

  • If you cannot work from home, you can go to work as long as your employer has taken reasonable measures to make your workplace COVID-safe.
    • You will no longer be able to claim statutory sick pay due to shielding, although you might still be eligible for it if your underlying health condition prevents you from working. You might still be eligible for the furlough scheme, which has been extended until September.
  • Children who have been shielding can go to school if schools are open for their year group.

You should receive a letter from the government with more information.

You might have mixed feelings about the end of shielding. Whether or not you choose to go out and see more people is a personal decision. If you do choose to, there are some measures you can take to reduce your risk.

If you are concerned about the safety of your workplace, speak to your employer or your union representative, if you have one. You can also get advice from ACAS or the Health and Safety Executive. If you think your employer is treating you unfairly because of your lymphoma, the Equality Advisory and Support Service offer free advice.

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What can I do to protect myself if I am extremely vulnerable?

You should follow any specific advice your medical team gives you.

Whether or not you choose to go out or see people is a personal decision. If you do, it is important to follow strict social distancing and hygiene measures:

  • Minimise contact with people who are not in your household, support bubble or extended household.
  • 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.
  • Avoid crowded places or gatherings where you can’t keep a safe distance from other people.
  • Try to shop online, or, if you need to go to the shops, pick a quiet time of day.
  • Wear a face covering on public transport and in shops and other indoor public places, unless you are exempt. The list of exemptions is slightly different in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Welsh government has produced a downloadable exemption card for people who are exempt to use if they want to. However, you should not be asked for proof of exemption.
  • 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, extended household or support bubble has symptoms of COVID-19. There is separate guidance on self-isolating for people in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

We have more information about general measures you can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The government has produced some information that you might find helpful:

These resources might also be helpful for people in other nations, but please be aware that some of the guidance is specific to the individual nation (for example, the number of people you are allowed to meet).

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What support is available for me?

If you are on the shielded patient list, you can access priority supermarket delivery slots.

If you need help getting food, medicines or social support, check what assistance is available where you live:

You might also find our information on practical support and emotional support helpful.

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What if I have a medical appointment?

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. Healthcare settings have lots of measures in place to make sure in-person appointments are as safe as possible.

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Vitamin D

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. It is particularly important this year, when you might have spent more time indoors and been out in the sunshine less often.

You might find it helpful to read the government guidance on vitamin D supplements in:

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in Scotland who opted in should receive a free 4-month supply of vitamin D by post. If you are not able to access free vitamin D supplements, you can buy them from most supermarkets, pharmacies or online.

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.

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