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Health news, tips and expert guidance

Advice for vulnerable and extremely vulnerable individuals

Vulnerable individuals

The situation is evolving but to date the following should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures:

- People aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)

- People under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (i.e anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):

  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis

  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure

  • chronic kidney disease

  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis

  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy

  • diabetes

  • problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed

  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy

  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)

- Pregnant women

Extremely vulnerable individuals

There are also some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If you are in this category, you will be contacted by the NHS with specific advice on the measures you should take to keep yourself and others safe.

You will be strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks from when you receive your letter. This is referred to as ‘shielding’ and is recommended to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus.

Extremely vulnerable individuals include:

  • people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication

  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy

  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment

  • people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)

  • people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)


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