Support for the Extremely Vulnerable

This Government guidance is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers.  This includes the extremely clinically vulnerable people living in long-term care facilities, either for the elderly or persons with special needs.

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. Government strongly advises people with serious underlying health conditions (listed below), which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

Who is considered ‘extremely vulnerable?’

People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients.
  • People with specific cancers:
  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
  • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
  • 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
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired

Shielding is for your personal protection. It is your choice to decide whether to follow the measures that Government advises. Individuals who have been given a prognosis of less than 6 months to live, and some others in special circumstances, could decide not to undertake shielding. This will be a deeply personal decision. Government advises calling your GP or specialist to discuss this.

The NHS in England is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice.

If you think you fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed above and you have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by your GP, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.

Getting coronavirus support as an extremely vulnerable person

If you have a medical condition which makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19),, you should register to tell the Government whether or not you need support.

You may have received a letter from the NHS telling you that you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, or been contacted by your GP or hospital clinician. If this has not happened, contact your GP or clinician after you register.

You’ll be asked for your NHS number but you can still register if you do not have it. You can find it on any letter the NHS has sent you or on a prescription. You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else at the Government website.

It may take time for any support offered through this service to arrive. Wherever possible you should continue to rely on friends, family and wider support to help you meet your needs. If this isn’t possible, please contact us.

Further Guidance on shielding and protecting people

For further guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19, including an easy-read guide, please see the latest Government guidance.

Support available in your local area

For information about support in your local area
For Foodbanks including food pack delivery and hot meals.

When this content has been updated

Last updated 28 April 2020