Beating bowel cancer together

Advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people

Page updated: Thursday 1 April 2021

Some people with cancer are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus. The Government has produced guidance for these 'clinically extremely vulnerable' people. It is also for their family, friends and carers.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people include:

  • people with cancer who are having chemotherapy
  • people who are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer. This includes people with bowel cancer whose cancer has spread to the lung
  • people receiving immunotherapy treatments
  • people receiving other targeted treatments which can affect their immune system
  • other people who have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs by their doctors. Your GP or hospital healthcare team will tell you if they think you have a high risk of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus
  • people in England who have been identified by the latest risk assessment tool. Information about the latest research is below under advice for people in England.

Shielded Patient List

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you'll be added to the Shielded Patient List. This means that you're advised to take extra precautions to protect yourself and that you're prioritised to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you aren't on the Shielded Patient List, but think there are good clinical reasons why you should be or if you're not sure, speak to your GP or healthcare team.

The Government continues to maintain the Shielded Patient List and will write to you separately to let you know when there are changes to government guidance. If you're clinically extremely vulnerable and don't have an appointment to receive the vaccine, you can book an appointment over the phone or online. Details on how to book an appointment can be found on the NHS website. Find more information about the coronavirus vaccine on our website.

For full guidance, please refer to the government website.

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus

If you think you have developed symptoms of COVID-19 such as a new, continuous cough or fever, seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.

If you experience sweats, coughing or shivering and you're receiving cancer treatment you should first contact:

  • your chemotherapy care line. If the chemotherapy care line is not available in your area, speak to your clinical team about who you should call in this situation
  • the Acute Oncology Service at your hospital.

In an emergency, call 999 if you're seriously ill. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.

Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

Prepare a single hospital bag. This will help the NHS provide you with the best care if you need to go to hospital as a result of catching coronavirus. Your bag should include:

  • your emergency contact
  • a list of the medications you take (including dose and frequency)
  • any information on your planned care appointments
  • things you would need for an overnight stay (for example, medication, pyjamas, toothbrush and snacks)
  • your advanced care plan (only if you have one)

Government guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people

We understand that the restrictions imposed are difficult, both for you and for your family members and/or carers. This is the safest thing to do to protect you from illness or complications of COVID-19. However, this is guidance and whether you follow the guidance or not is a personal decision for you to make. You may decide, having weighed up the risks and the implications of shielding, that you don't want to follow the guidance.

You may also choose to remain in your own home at all times if you don't feel comfortable with any form of contact with others.

Before deciding, you may find it helpful to speak to your GP or hospital specialist and those who may provide care for you. This may be particularly relevant for patients who are receiving end of life care. Please do talk to somebody before you decide what to do.

If you're unsure of your risk and what measures you should be taking, you should speak with your hospital specialist. If this isn't possible, you should contact your GP.

There is separate guidance for people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This guidance is subject to change. Please check the government websites in the first instance. We've reviewed government advice and put together the information pages below.

See all our Coronavirus advice and guidance

Help us help everyone affected by bowel cancer

If you've found our information and support useful, please consider making a donation towards our lifesaving work so that we can be here for you all now and in the future.


Make a donation

Thanks supporter

Thanks for signing up for this great campaign. To complete the setup of your JustGiving page you need to first create an account for myemail@domain.tld, please enter a new password to use below. Alternatively if you already have an account and would like to use it just click here.

Thanks supporter

Thanks for signing up for this great campaign. To complete the setup of your JustGiving page you need to login to your myemail@domain.tld account, please enter the password for that account below. Alternatively if you have a different account you would like to use just click here.

Forgotten password

Hi supporter, do you want to send a password reminder?.

JustGiving Login

Hi supporter, please enter your JustGiving login details below and we'll handle the rest.