On March 23, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a number of measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus in the UK. Under the measures, all people are being told to stay at home, and only leave the house under certain circumstances. But for people considered vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, the current advice is to stay at home for at least 12 weeks to protect against catching coronavirus.
The Government has recently announced a number of ‘shielding’ measures, which are being implemented to protect the most vulnerable from catching coronavirus.
People who are considered most at risk of needing hospital treatment if they catch coronavirus are being asked to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.
Under the measures, people need to avoid face-to-face contact with others, and all medical services where possible should be conducted remotely.
If you need a prescription, and someone cannot pick it up on your behalf, you can contact your pharmacy and they can help to deliver your prescription to you.
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Coronavirus support: How to get help for extremely vulnerable people
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During this time only healthcare workers and essential carers should be visiting you, which can include family and friends who are helping to provide essential care.
If you are considered vulnerable, you should use food delivery services rather than visit the shops yourself, and if this isn’t possible family and friends can leave essential items on your doorstep.
However, if this is not possible you can register to receive support on the Government website (more details below).
The NHS is currently recruiting volunteers to help bring food deliveries and support to people staying at home.
In England, those considered extremely vulnerable if they catch coronavirus are being directly contacted by the NHS from March 23.
But if you think you might be considered extremely vulnerable, and have not been written to or contacted by your GP by March 29, you should discuss these concerns with your hospital clinician or GP.
Coronavirus support: You can call your pharmacy for help getting your prescription delivered
Who is considered extremely vulnerable?
According to the Government website, people who fall into the extremely vulnerable group include:
Solid organ transplant recipients.
People with specific cancers:
– people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
– people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
– people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
– people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
– people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
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As well as the extremely vulnerable, everybody is advised to stay at home at the current time.
People who are at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus also include:
- People over 70
- People who are pregnant
- People with underlying health issues or chronic illnesses
Full Government advice on shielding for the extremely vulnerable can be found HERE.
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How can you get support as an extremely vulnerable person?
The Government has set up a dedicated webpage for this purpose, where people can register if they have a serious medical condition which makes them vulnerable to coronavirus.
You can access the Government site HERE to register.
If you’re not sure if you have a medical condition which makes you extremely vulnerable, the Government still recommends you register.
You can register yourself, and people can register others on their behalf.
The registration process involves a few questions, and it’s useful to have your NHS number ready if possible.
The service can help you to access support, such as help with getting food deliveries to your home.
If you receive a letter from the NHS about your medical condition, the NHS will also include a telephone number you can call if you are unable to visit the site online.
How can you help support an extremely vulnerable person?
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, told The Independent: “There are some simple steps we can all take that will make a huge difference in, what may prove to be, some difficult weeks and months ahead.”
Ms Abrahams added: “Picking up some shopping, prescriptions or running errands could be a major help.”
The NHS is currently looking to recruit 250,000 volunteers to help with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Many food banks across the UK are also experiencing shortages, so see if you can make a donation to your local bank.