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Government advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England

Page updated: Tuesday 19 January 2021

The Government has introduced a national lockdown from 5 January 2021. Everyone is advised to stay at home. The Prime Minister has advised that clinically extremely vulnerable people should follow shielding guidance, which is summarised below.

Letters are being sent out to all those affected by the shielding rules. The Government is also issuing letters by email for those who have registered an email address with their GP practice. Anyone who received the shielding letter in November and whose condition hasn't changed should follow the advice below as soon as possible, until they receive the letter or email.

It's important to remember that shielding is advice and you should consider which level of protection is right for you. Clinically extremely vulnerable people will not be asked to distance from people within their own homes or to stop taking outdoor exercise.

National lockdown guidance

  • You can't meet with friends and family you don't live with, unless they are part of your support bubble
  • You're strongly advised to work from home. If you can’t work from home, you should not go to work. You may want to speak to your employer about taking on an alternative role or change your working patterns temporarily so that you can work from home where possible. If you can't do this, your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme. You may also get financial support through the Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance. If you live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, you can continue to work if you aren't able to work from home
  • If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable, your child should follow shielding advice and shouldn't go to school. Your school or college will make appropriate arrangements for you to be able to continue your education at home. Children and young people in the household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to attend school. Children and young people whose parents or carers are clinically extremely vulnerable should also continue to go to school
  • You're advised not to form childcare bubbles during the national lockdown
  • You should still continue to receive the care and support you need to help you stay safe and well. It’s important that you continue to seek support from the NHS for any health conditions
  • You should still go outside to exercise carefully and avoid busy areas. You’re advised to stay at home as much as possible.You may wish to meet up with one other person from outside your household or support bubble outdoors
  • Avoid going to the shops and use online shopping if you can. You could also ask others, such as friends, family or the NHS Volunteer Responders to collect and deliver shopping for you. You can also register to request access to priority supermarket deliveries, if you do not have someone you can rely on to go shopping for you. If you already have a priority delivery slot with a supermarket that will continue – you do not need to do anything further. When registering you will be asked for your NHS number. You can find it on any letter the NHS has sent you, or on a prescription
  • You're strongly advised not to go to a pharmacy. In the first instance, you should ask if any friends, family or volunteers can collect medicines for you. If friends and family are not able to collect your medicines for you, and you and/or the pharmacy are unable to arrange a volunteer, then you will be eligible for free medicines delivery. Please contact your pharmacy to inform them that you are clinically extremely vulnerable and need your medicines delivered, and they will arrange this free of charge
  • You can still receive informal care at home from people in your support bubble
  • You can still receive care at home from professional social care and medical professionals.

This advice will be in place until 21 February 2021. After this date, if the advice is to continue shielding, the Government will write to you again to provide further information.

For full guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people, please visit the Government website.


Clinically extremely vulnerable adults will get priority access to vaccination against COVID-19. More information about the vaccine can be found on our website here.

You will be contacted again by the NHS with more information on when and how you will be invited to get the vaccine. Your local NHS will make sure that you can receive the vaccine as safely as possible.

If I have had my vaccination against COVID-19, do I still have to shield?

Yes. Even if you've had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow this shielding advice until further notice as we continue to assess the impact of vaccination among all groups.

The people you live with should continue to follow the public health rules and guidance as long as they are in place, including if you have received the vaccine and if they have received the vaccine.

For information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme, read answers to the FAQs.

Vitamin D supplements

The Government is extending the offer of a free 4-month supply of vitamin D supplements for all adults who are clinically extremely vulnerable to support general health.

If you have not already applied, you can register here. Further guidance on how to safely take vitamin D supplements will be provided during the opt in process.

You don't need to opt in to receive the vitamin D supplements if:

  • you're already taking, or are prescribed, a vitamin D supplement by your GP or healthcare professional
  • you're currently living in a nursing or residential care home, as the Government will provide these direct to the home where you live

Evidence of the link of vitamin D to Covid-19 is still being researched with larger scale trials needed. In the meantime, the Secretary of State has asked NICE and PHE to re-review the existing evidence. The Government will publish its findings towards the end of the year. For more information, please visit the government website.

At all times, you should continue to access the social care and medical services you need. Providers of these services are making every effort to ensure the stay open and as safe as possible.

Shielded Patient List

The Government will continue to maintain the Shielded Patient List. If you're clinically extremely vulnerable, you will be on the Shielded Patient list and the Government will write to you separately to inform you if you are advised to shield.

If you need additional care and support

  • You should continue to receive care at home, either from professional social care and medical professionals, or from friends and family within your support bubble
  • You should continue to access the NHS services that you need, and you should contact the NHS if you have an urgent or emergency care need
  • It's also really important to look after your mental health. The Every Mind Matters website offers advice and practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing and manage your mental health during this pandemic. If you, or someone you care for, are experiencing a mental health crisis, we urge you to make contact with a local health professional immediately.

Registering for support

If you need additional help to follow this guidance, your local council may be able to help. You can register yourself or someone else for the new online service to:

  • request access to a priority supermarket delivery slot (if you have already got priority supermarket deliveries, you will keep them)
  • tell your council if you need support to follow this guidance, especially if you are unable to arrange this yourself or with the help of friends, family or other support networks
  • make sure your details, such as your address, are up to date.

You can register now and you will be asked for your NHS number. You can find it on any letter the NHS has sent you, or on a prescription. It's helpful if you register even if you do not have any support needs at this time. You can log in and update your needs if circumstances change at any time.

If you need to register your needs by phone, or have an urgent need, contact your local council directly.

If you urgently need access to food and are not able to get support from friends or family, then please contact your local council who will support you to access food.

Find out what help you might be able to get from your local council.

See all our coronavirus advice and guidance

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