If your baby or child is at high risk

This page includes guidance for people who are at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19, including information about shielding.

Last updated: 22nd October 2020

This information includes guidance for people who are at increased risk of serious illness as a result of COVID-19. It includes information about local restrictions, shielding and what to do if you are worried.

Increased risk in babies and children

We know that children with some conditions such as chronic lung disease (CLD) have a higher risk of developing other types of infection that can cause problems in the lungs, sinuses, throat or airways (respiratory infection). Therefore some children and babies may have a higher risk of getting unwell with COVID-19.

The government has previously recommended that some people, including some babies and children born sick or premature, should take extra precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19. This is known as shielding.

From July, a large number of children who were previously on the shielding list were removed. This is because newer evidence and research indicated that not all children and young people who were categorised as extremely clinically vulnerable should continue to be so. Children should only be removed from the shielding list by a GP or consultant, following a consultation with the child, their family and other clinicians if needed.

The shielding programme paused in all areas of the UK from the middle of August. This means that children who were shielding are able to go to school, and adults who were shielding are able to go to work. Siblings of children who were shielding can go to school, and parents of children who were shielding can go to work.

A small number of people, including some children and babies have been asked to continue to shield.

We always recommend you check for the latest information in your area, as the situation and the restrictions are likely to change. If you are worried or unsure about what this guidance means for you, you can contact us at hello@bliss.org.uk contact your GP or healthcare team.

If you live in England

In England the government advice is different for people who are at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) or at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable). You can find out more about what this means here.

People who are clinically vulnerable (moderate risk) are advised to closely follow the guidance according to the alert level for their area - medium, high or very high.

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable (high risk) have serious medical conditions that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Most people this group will have received a letter from the NHS or their GP to advise them to shield between March and August. The advice for this group, which includes some children and babies, is different to those who are clinically vulnerable (moderate risk). You can find out more about this here.

Most people in this group will not be asked to shield again. However, if you live in a very high-risk area the government may write to you to advise you or your baby or child to shield for a short period of time. You should not follow shielding advice unless you have been advised to do so.

If you live in Scotland

Shielding has been paused in Scotland. Anyone who had previously been shielding should now follow the same guidance as everyone in Scotland, including any local restrictions.

You may be contacted by your GP or healthcare provider asking you to take specific precautions. If this happens, you should closely follow the advice you have been given.

There is more information for people who had previously been shielding in Scotland here. This includes information about how to sign up to a text messaging service to let you know about any changes.

If you live in Wales

Shielding has been paused in Wales. Anyone who had previously been shielding should now follow the same guidance as everyone in Wales.

Some areas of Wales are currently under local lockdown restrictions. Everyone should follow the guidance for the area where they live. There is more guidance about local restrictions in Wales here.

Anyone in Wales who is currently on the shielding list will contacted if there are any changes to this. There is information about the support available, including an easy read guide, here.

If you live in Northern Ireland

Shielding has been paused in Northern Ireland. Anyone who had previously been shielding should now follow the same guidance as everyone else in Northern Ireland. There is more information about the latest guidance, including restrictions, here.

There is more information for people who were previously shielding here. This includes information about what you can do if you are worried about the risks, or for support after shielding.

There is more information here for people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 but who haven’t been shielding.

Can I form a support bubble or extended household?

In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, everyone, including people who have been shielding, are able to form a ‘support bubble’ or 'extended household' with one other household. In these parts of the UK, you are only able to do this if at least one of the households includes a person who lives alone or is a single parent (where at least one child is under 18).

If you form a support bubble or extended household, you can spend time inside each other’s homes, and stay overnight, without needing to socially distance. You can find more information on the government websites for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In Wales, people who have been shielding have been able to form an ‘extended household’ with one other household. In Wales, anyone can form an extended household, and you do not have to be a single parent family or living alone. There is more information here.

I am worried about my child who is vulnerable. What should I do?

We know that this is a difficult time for parents of babies and children who have previously been told that their child needs to shield, or have been removed from the shielded patients list. You may welcome these changes and look forward to being able to go out more, but you may also have concerns about your child’s health if they are extremely clinically vulnerable, and this is okay.

We understand that some children and parents may be anxious about attending school and educational settings. We recommend that any parents who are worried talk to their child’s school or local authority about their concerns. You can also email us at hello@bliss.org.uk if you would like to talk to someone

Other useful organisations

Asthma UK has information about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Wellchild has specific information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for parents and carers of sick children.

The British Lung Foundation has specific information about coronavirus for people with lung conditions.

The British Heart Foundation have information for people affected by heart or circulatory disease.

Mind has lots of information if you are feeling anxious or worried about COVID-19, and has guidance on how to take care of your mental wellbeing.

Working Families have more information about your work rights during COVID-19.

YoungMinds has more information about how to talk to your children about COVID-19.

We are updating this page as more information becomes available. For more support, get in touch at hello@bliss.org.uk