Guidance on protecting those at most risk of the effects of Covid-19 (clinically extremely vulnerable) continues to be updated.
It's understandable that these changes might mean that you feel pressure to make a decision about whether you can – or should – leave your home, and you may feel anxious about whether this is safe for you. This information will help you to understand the advice in your area.
Information is correct as of 7 January 2020.
- Why is shielding guidance changing? What's my risk as a woman with ovarian cancer?
Since March 2020, at a time when the rate of Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection was high, shielding was recommended for people who were considered extremely vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus. This included women with ovarian cancer who are having chemotherapy or some other targeted cancer treatments, including PARP inhibitors.
Coronavirus cases are rising again across the whole of the UK, so discussions around shielding continue.
It’s natural to worry about the risk of coronavirus to you, and to want to know your level of risk. While it's not possible to predict anyone’s risk exactly, your healthcare team will be able to talk you through your level of risk and what that means for you.
- What has changed in the shielding advice?
As of 4 January, England entered its third lockdown. All areas in England are now being told to stay at home. People considered clinically extremely vulnerable are being advised to shield once again, stay at home and not go to work. You can still attend medical appointments and are encouraged to leave the house to exercise. You'll receive a new letter about this if you're considered extremely clinically vulnerable.
Read the England update on shielding
Those living in England who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable can also access free vitamin D supplements over the winter period. Vitamin D helps to keep bones strong and muscles healthy, which is particularly important for people who were shielding in spring and summer this year.
Read more about how to access free vitamin D through the NHS
As of 5 January most areas in Scotland, other than some islands, are in lockdown. Those who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable are being advised to shield, to stay at home and not to go to work. You can still go out for exercise and essential shopping or medicines. You'll receive a new letter about this if you're considered extremely clinically vulnerable.
Read the Scotland update on shielding
As of 20 December, all areas in Wales are at alert level 4 in the level system.
As of 22 December 2020, anyone considered clinically extremely vulnerable is being advised to shield. You should stay at home as much as possible and no longer go to work outside the home. You're still encouraged to go outside to exercise and attend medical appointments and those in a support bubble can continue to be in it. You'll receive a new letter about this if you're considered extremely clinically vulnerable.
Read the Wales update on shielding
As of 26 December, everyone in Northern Ireland is under additional restrictions. It's advised that people who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable should not go to their workplace and should work from home. You're still encouraged to go outside to exercise. You'll receive a new letter about this if you're considered extremely clinically vulnerable.
Read the Northern Ireland update on shielding
- What's the advice about returning to work?
As of 4 January, if you're considered clinically extremely vulnerable, you're strongly advised not go to your workplace and work from home.
If you can't work from home then there are alternative options. For example your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021.
As of 5 January, if you're considered clinically extremely vulnerable you're advised not to attend your workplace and work from home.
You'll be sent a new letter that is similar to a fit note (a statement of fitness to work). This letter is called a shielding notification and it can act as a fit note for as long as lockdown restrictions are in place if you can't work from home. It can be shown to your employer without the need for a GP fit note.
As of 22 December, if you're considered clinically extremely vulnerable you're being strongly advised not to attend your workplace and work from home.
If you can’t work from home your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021. You should have a conversation with your employer about whether this is possible.
As of 26 December, those considered clinically extremely vulnerable are strongly advised to work from home and not attend their workplace.
If you're unable to work from home you'll be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, and can use your letter as evidence. If you haven’t yet received a new letter, but you're considered clinically extremely vulnerable, you can use your original letter as evidence.
Please remember that you can always call our support line on 020 7923 5475 (9am–5.30pm, Monday–Friday) and speak to one of our specialist nurses if you have any concerns or questions or just need someone to talk to.
We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is accurate. If you're concerned about your health, you should consult your doctor. Target Ovarian Cancer cannot accept liability for any loss or damage resulting from any inaccuracy in this information or third-party information on websites to which we link.