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Updated NHS England guidance on shielding and protecting the extremely vulnerable

Thursday 26th March 2020

NHS England has published updated guidance 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.

You can read the guidance in full here.

A letter has been going out to people in this extremely vulnerable group to provide information about accessing health and social care during this time and extra support available for them, their families and carers.

If you think you fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed below 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.

If you receive a letter you are encouraged to register by going to www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable or call 0800 028 8327, the Government's dedicated helpline. 

This will help understand whether or not people are in touch with friends, family or a support network in their community who can support them to get food and medicine, and, if not what help they would need. For example, you'll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food.

What does extremely vulnerable mean?

People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients.
  • People with specific cancers:

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.