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

The advice to clinically extremely vulnerable people in Northern Ireland is being gradually relaxed. This is because the number of people being admitted to hospital or dying from COVID-19 is much lower than it was. 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 had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

The Northern Ireland government guidance states that:

  • Work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, you can go to work as long as your employer has taken reasonable measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission and make your workplace as safe as possible.
  • 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.
  • If you choose to go to shops, cafes or restaurants now that restrictions are being relaxed, try to go at a quiet time of day, follow social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering, unless you are exempt. If you don't feel comfortable going into shops, you might prefer to shop online or ask friends or family to shop for you.
  • If you choose to meet other people, consider ways to reduce your risk.
    • Think about how many people you are comfortable meeting within the current guidance.
    • Consider meeting outdoors to keep your risk as low as possible. If you choose to meet other people indoors, keep the windows open to let plenty of fresh air inside.
    • Continue to keep a safe distance away from people who aren't part of your household bubble.
  • 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

The Scottish government updated its guidance for people at the highest risk from COVID-19 on 19 July. 'Highest risk' refers to clinically extremely vulnerable people - those who were advised to shield in the past.

People at the highest risk are advised to follow the same guidance as everybody else in Scotland. This is because most adults in Scotland have now had the opportunity to be vaccinated, reducing the risk for everyone. There are also lots of other measures in place to protect you. You can find out more about this on mygov.scot.

The government has provided additional advice to help you make informed decisions to reduce your risk. This is summarised below, or you can visit the full guidance.

  • Work from home if you can.
    • If you cannot work from home, you can go to work. Your employer should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment to help them identity measures to reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace.
    • You can also carry out an individual risk assessment to identify any additional measures that might be needed to help protect you.
    • The government has more workplace safety advice that can help you reduce your risk.
    • 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 need support to work safely at home or in the workplace, you might be able to get help from Access to Work.
  • If you need financial support, contact the Money Talk Team, a service provided by the Citizens Advice Network in Scotland.
  • You can use public transport if you need to, but it is safer to walk, cycle or drive if you can. Try to avoid sharing transport with people who aren't part of your extended household.
  • You can go to the shops if you choose to but you might prefer to shop online.
    • If you go to the shops, you can reduce your risk by going at quieter times. Some supermarkets offer priority times for higher risk people. Sanitise your hands frequently and wear a face covering.
    • If you prefer to shop online, you can register for priority slots by texting 1SHOP to 07860 064525 (if you have already signed up to Scotland's SMS text messaging service) or by phoning the free National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000.
  • Continue to access your healthcare. This might involve home visits, or phone or video appointments.
  • Follow any specific advice your medical team give you.

Adults who live with you can help reduce their risk of passing COVID-19 to you by getting vaccinated as soon as they can and taking lateral flow tests twice a week to check they don't have COVID-19 without realising.

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In Wales

The Welsh government updated its advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people on 27 July. This is because restrictions are being gradually relaxed, mainly due to the success of the vaccination programme. Clinically extremely vulnerable people are now advised to follow the same guidance as everybody else in Wales. The government has provided additional advice to help you make informed decisions to reduce your risk. This is summarised below, or you can visit the full guidance.

  • Have both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you haven't had your vaccine yet, find out who to contact to arrange your appointment.
  • Self-isolate and book a test if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Work from home if you can.
    • If you cannot work from home, you can go to work. Your employer must take measures to reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace. If you are returning to your workplace, speak to your them about what steps they have taken to reduce your risk of infection.
    • You can also carry out your own risk assessment to identify any other steps that might help reduce your risk.
    • You might still be eligible for the furlough scheme, which is available until September.
    • If you need support to work safely at home or in the workplace, you might be able to get help from Access to Work.
    • 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 (telephone 0300 123 1100).
    • If you think your employer is treating you unfairly because of your lymphoma, the Equality Advisory and Support Service  (telephone 0808 800 0082 or text phone 0808 800 0084) offer free advice.
  • You can go to the shops if you choose, but you might prefer to shop online or ask friends or family to shop for you.
    • If you go to the shops, you can reduce your risk by going at quieter times. Sanitise your hands frequently and wear a face covering.
    • Priority delivery slots are still available if you prefer to shop online.
  • 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. Try to avoid car sharing transport with people who aren't part of your extended household.
  • If you choose to meet other people, consider ways to reduce your risk.
    • Think about how many people you are comfortable meeting.
    • Consider meeting outdoors to keep your risk as low as possible. If you choose to meet other people indoors, keep the windows open to let plenty of fresh air inside.
    • Continue to keep a safe distance away from people who aren't part of your extended household.
  • Wear a face covering on public transport, in shops, restaurants, pubs or other indoor public places where you are likely to come into contact with people you don't know. 
  • Wash your hands often using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser if hand-washing facilities aren’t available.
  • 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.

You should receive a letter from the government with more information. You can also sign up for alerts if the guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people changes in the future.

You might have mixed feelings about the easing of restrictions. 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 need help relating to coronavirus, the Welsh Government offers a support service. Public Health Wales has wellbeing resources to help you look after your mental and physical health.

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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, you can reduce your risk by following social distancing and hygiene measures:

  • Limit contact with people who are not in your household, support bubble or extended household.
  • Stay a safe distance 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.

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).

You might find some of our other resources helpful:

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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:

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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