Information about shielding

This information includes guidance about shielding for anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

Last updated: 6th April 2021

What is shielding? Is my child clinically extremely vulnerable?

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). This means that some children and babies may have a higher risk of getting unwell with COVID-19.

The government has recommended that some people who are clinically extremely vulnerable, including some babies and children born premature or sick, should take extra precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19. This is known as shielding. You will have been informed if you or your child is on the shielded patients list. The definition of groups considered clinically extremely vulnerable can be found on the NHS website.

Some people are considered at moderately higher risk of becoming seriously unwell. These people are defined as clinically vulnerable. These people will not be asked to shield, though some may have been asked to shield previously. The list of people who are considered clinically vulnerable can also be found on the NHS website.

From April 2021, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable have been given updated shielding advice. We have more information about what this means for you in your area of the UK here:

  • In England, and Wales, anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding will no longer need to do so from the 1st April 2021
  • In Scotland, anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding will no longer need to do so from 26th April 2021
  • In Northern Ireland, anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding will no longer need to do from 12th April 2021

This means that anyone who has previously been shielding is able to follow the same guidance as the rest of the population. Children will be able to return to school, and adults will be able to return to work if they cannot work from home.

A very small group of children will be required to continue to shield. If this applies to your child, your GP will let you know.

If you have more questions about what the latest guidance means for you and your family, email us at hello@bliss.org.uk

How do I know if my child is on the shielded patients list?

A large number of children who were originally on the shielding list at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have been removed. This is because newer evidence and research has suggested that many children who were considered clinically extremely vulnerable should not be considered to be so. All children and young people who were considered clinically extremely vulnerable should have had a review by their GP or hospital clinician.

If you are unsure if you or your child is on the shielded patients list, speak to your GP. You can also contact us for more guidance by emailing hello@bliss.org.uk

If your baby has been born since April 2020 and you do not know if they should be shielding, speak to your baby’s GP or clinician.

If my child is shielding, do I also need to shield myself?

Current guidance says that people who live with someone who is shielding, but who are not themselves clinically extremely vulnerable do not need to shield. However, if you are living with someone who is shielding, you should minimise social interaction outside of the home.

More information about what restrictions are in place where you live for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable can be found on the government websites for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In the parts of the UK where schools are open, children who need to shield have been advised to not to go to school. If this is the case, the current guidance says that other children in the home who are not shielding should continue to go to school.

If you have a child who is shielding, you are still able to go to work outside of the home. However, you should work from home if you can.

If you have any concerns about this, talk to your GP or your child’s clinician. If you have any concerns about your child’s school, you could speak to your child’s head teacher. or you could also call the Department of Education helpline on 0800 046 8687, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

My baby/child is required to shield, but I cannot work from home. What should I do?

If your baby/child is required to shield, current government guidance says you do not need to shield yourself and you can continue to go to work if you cannot work from home. You should be very strict in following the social distancing guidelines.

You may want to talk to your employer and explain that someone in your household is extremely vulnerable and is shielding, and ask how they can support you with social distancing in the workplace. 

Your employer will already need to comply with guidelines to ensure that workplaces are COVID-19 secure and that you are able to work safely. You should discuss any concerns with your line manager to see what other arrangements can be agreed. 

You can find more information about your work rights during the COVID-19 pandemic on the following websites:

If my baby/child is required to shield, am I able to form a support bubble or extended household?

Yes, you are still able to form a support bubble or extended household if you or your baby/child is required to shield. Please visit this page for more information about support bubbles and extended households.

I have not received a letter or text message from the NHS to say that my baby/child is on the shielded patients list, but I think they should be on the list. What should I do?

If you have not received a letter or a text message and think you or your baby should be on the list, speak to your GP or specialist. You can also contact us for more guidance and support by emailing hello@bliss.org.uk

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

We know that this is a difficult time for parents of babies and children who are clinically extremely vulnerable, who have been told that their child can follow the same guidance as the rest of the population. It may also be worrying if your child has been added or removed from the shielded patients list. You may welcome this guidance, but you may also have concerns about your child’s health if they are vulnerable and this is okay.

If you are worried or have questions about your child’s vulnerability, you should speak to your GP or another healthcare professional. You could speak to a member of the team on the unit. Even if you have asked before, it is always okay to ask if you are unsure about something.

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 if you are worried. You can also call the Department of Education helpline on 0800 046 8687 – 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday) or 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday).

You can also email us at hello@bliss.org.uk if you would like to talk to someone. If you have a baby on the unit or have recently left the unit, you can speak via video call to one of our Bliss Champion volunteers.

Other useful organisations

Acas have more information about staying safe at work, furlough and shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also call them on 0300 123 1100, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Citizens Advice have more information about furlough, what to do if you are worried about working, and your rights at work.

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