As a member of the One Cancer Voice group of charities, we are appealing to the public to raise awareness about the impact of the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on people affected by cancer, and the steps people can take to protect those who are still clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19
The Blood Cancer Alliance, of which Lymphoma Action is a member, have also written to the Government to highlight how a large number of the UK’s blood cancer patient community, including people affected by lymphoma, continue to be clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the immune-suppressive nature of their condition or treatment. The letter urges the Prime Minister to:
- Ensure that advice is clear for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable on how to remain safe, making sure they are aware of ongoing risks (including the level of protection provided by vaccines).
- Offer full practical support as people take actions to protect themselves, including mandating the wearing of masks by staff and customers in supermarkets, and by introducing or continuing a priority shopping hour and delivery slots for the immunocompromised.
- Make sure that the general public are aware that there are people who are still clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, even if they have received both doses of the vaccine, and encourage responsible and respectful behaviour towards them.
The Alliance have also asked the Government to consider taking the following specific actions:
- Appoint a clinically qualified senior official for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, who can lead on key issues across government policy areas including health, welfare and employment.
- Develop a clear three-year strategy for supporting people who are immunocompromised, including working with employers to make sure workplaces are safe, plan for financial support and mental health and provide practical support for those who will continue to shield over the long term.
- Invest in more research into vaccine efficacy and potential alternative treatments for COVID-19 for people who are immunocompromised, making sure that people affected by blood cancer are included in those studies.
In addition, Lymphoma Action is one of 56 charities who have signed a letter to the Prime Minister organised by the charity National Voices to ask him to reconsider the lifting of COVID-19 measures in England. The letter asks the Government to urgently address the needs and rights of people who remain at high risk from the virus. It also highlights the importance of keeping COVID-19 infection rates low to ensure economic recovery and protect the NHS whilst it crucially recovers the delivery of non-COVID related healthcare.
Ropinder Gill, Chief Executive of Lymphoma Action comments: ‘It is vital that people who are still clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 are not forgotten as restrictions are lifted. Together our voices are stronger and so in collaboration with other charities, we will continue to put forward the issues that matter to people affected by lymphoma to the policy and decision makers who can address them.’