Clinically extremely vulnerable people are no longer advised to shield.
This is the second time that shielding has been lifted in the UK and for many patients, this news is a welcome change that means they can start getting out more and seeing people again. For some though, this change may make them feel anxious as they are unsure whether they are ready to stop shielding.
However you feel, we have prepared some frequently asked questions about what this change means for the myeloma community to help you navigate this transition safely.
Why has shielding ended?
Shielding has ended because COVID-19 cases have fallen significantly and the number of people who have had at least one dose of the vaccine has increased to over 30 million. As a result, the risk of catching COVID-19 is now considerably lower than when shielding was reintroduced in January.
Myeloma patients should continue to follow strict social distancing measures and good hygiene practices to minimise their risk of COVID-19.
What measures should I be following now shielding has ended?
Now that shielding has ended you should follow national COVID-19 guidance.
You can read the latest advice in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in our What measures should I be following? post.
Although shielding has ended, it is still recommended that clinically extremely vulnerable people take extra precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
- Limiting the number of people outside your own household you meet with
- Strictly following social distancing guidelines
- Avoiding busy places
- Wearing a face mask when meeting with people not in your household
- Regularly cleaning your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser
- Shopping at quiet times or asking others to shop for you
- Working from home, if you can
Should I continue shielding if I haven’t received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Shielding has ended because the risk of COVID-19 has fallen throughout England and Wales. This is as a result of both fewer COVID-19 cases and more vaccinations. This means the risk of COVID-19 is considered low enough for the UK Government to start easing both shielding and lockdown measures.
However, every patient has a different level of risk related to their health and where they live. Therefore, the decision to stop shielding is a personal one. It will depend on your individual circumstances and how comfortable you feel about going out more.
Knowing your personal level of risk can help you decide what you are comfortable doing now shielding has ended. Talk to your healthcare team about your level of risk and if there are any reasons you should be particularly careful.
There is no right or wrong way to adapt to this change in guidance – do what makes you feel comfortable. You might like to take small steps to start with, for example, going for a short socially distanced chat with a friend in a quiet park.
Do I need to go back to work now shielding has ended?
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are strongly advised to work from home if they can. However, now shielding has ended, myeloma patients who can’t work from home can return to their workplace provided it is safe for them to do so.
Your employer must ensure you can follow strict social distancing measures whilst at work and when travelling to and from work. Following a workplace risk assessment, your employer should make the necessary adjustments to your workplace to protect you.
If your workplace can’t be made safe, you should talk to your employer about the options available to you. You may want to discuss whether you need a fit note with your GP or consultant.
We would recommend that you have a conversation with your employer. They may be able to offer additional support, change when you work, the tasks you need to do, or allow you to work from home.
If you have any concerns about the change in guidance or questions about what you should be doing, you can call the Infoline on 0800 980 3332 or email email@example.com