Social distancing and shielding

For people with lymphoma during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anne in kitchen

Everyone in the UK should now be compliant with social distancing and this must be particularly stringent in those aged 70 and over and anyone under 70 with an underlying health condition which includes all patients with lymphoma.

Patients with lymphoma (or a history of lymphoma) who should be shielded

Some people with lymphoma are at higher risk of experiencing complications of COVID-19 and therefore should adhere to shielding in line with Public Health England (PHE), NHS inform, Scotland or Public Health Wales. This involves strict social isolation with no contact from the outside world beyond that absolutely necessary, for a period of at least 12 weeks.

PHE guidance recommends shielding for 4 groups below:

  • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment.
  • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer.
  • People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
  • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.

Patients 'at any stage of treatment' includes before, during and after treatment.

Before: Patients on watch and wait for low grade lymphoma
During: Patients on treatment
After:    2 years post treatment or longer if ongoing recurrent infections

Patients on treatment should follow the standard neutropenic sepsis pathways and telephone for clinical advice as stated by chemotherapy unit prior to commencing treatment.

If you have received advice from the Government to shield for 12 weeks then you should follow this advice. Guidance is also available from NHS inform, Scotland and Public Health Wales


This information was produced by a group of lymphoma specialists across the UK. 

26 March 2020