Support for the clinically extremely vulnerable
Councils across Devon are working together to support people identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable through this third period of national restrictions.
During the first lockdown beginning last March, around 34,000 Devon residents were considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable based on their long term health conditions and vulnerability, and they were advised to ‘shield’. Many spent several months with little if any interaction outside of their households. Councils, local charities and community groups worked hard to ensure that those who needed support, received help – including food deliveries and shopping, and lifts to medical appointments. Since then, more vulnerable people have been identified.
With the latest restrictions, the clinically extremely vulnerable have been written to once again by the Government and councils have put in place a support programme for those that need additional help to comply with new lockdown guidance.
The Government is advising all clinically extremely vulnerable people to take extra shielding measures to protect themselves. This advice will apply until 21 February 2021. If the advice is to continue beyond that date further information will be sent out.
Whilst you are strongly advised to follow the extra precautionary shielding measures listed below, to help keep yourself safe, this remains advice and not the law. You must, however, follow the lockdown rules that apply to everyone.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to stay at home as much as possible. You can still go outdoors carefully to exercise or to attend health appointments. You are strongly advised to work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, then you should not attend work. You may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough). This letter is a formal shielding notification and can act as evidence for your employer to show that you cannot work outside your home from 5 January until 21 February 2021, including for statutory sick pay (SSP) purposes.
Please make sure your GP has your most up to date contact details, including your home address and, if possible, a personal email address, so that we can contact you quickly in the event that guidance changes in the future. If you need any additional support to help you follow the guidance, your local council may be able to help. You can contact your council and register for support at the Shielding Support website: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support
Advice for clinically extremely vulnerable children and young people
Our current knowledge suggests that very few children are at highest risk of severe illness due to the virus. Doctors have therefore been reviewing all children and young people who were initially identified as clinically extremely vulnerable to confirm whether they are still thought to be at highest risk. If this letter is addressed to a child or young person, and you have not yet heard from your child’s hospital doctor or GP to discuss this, please contact whoever usually provides care for your child to check whether they should still be considered clinically extremely vulnerable. If you have already discussed this with your child’s doctors and they have confirmed your child is still considered clinically extremely vulnerable, they should follow the advice in this letter.
Access to health and care
Please remember that the NHS is open, and we urge you to continue to access all the NHS services that you need. It is safer for you to use the NHS than to try to manage alone. If you are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on your health, speak to your GP, hospital clinician or use NHS111. Further information on accessing help and support can be found in the attached guidance.
The clinically extremely vulnerable will get priority access to vaccination against COVID-19 before the general population and in line with the priority ordering set by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). You will be contacted again by the NHS with more information on when and how you will be invited to get the vaccine. The vaccine is likely to make an important contribution towards protecting you from COVID-19. We expect to have been able to offer the first dose of the vaccine to you by mid-February. Your local NHS will ensure that you can receive the vaccine as safely as possible, as well as any care and support needed. Even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow this shielding advice until further notice as we continue to assess the impact of vaccination among all groups. The people you live with should continue to follow the public health rules and guidance as long as they are in place, including if you have received the vaccine and if they have received the vaccine. The Government is extending the offer of a free 4-month supply of vitamin D supplements for all adults who are clinically extremely vulnerable to support general health. If you have not already applied you can register at www.nhs.uk/get-vitamin-d. Further guidance on how to safely take vitamin D supplements will be provided during the opt in process.
Further information and details can be found on the Devon County Council support page.
Details of the Mid Devon hardship fund, which may also be able to assist people in need, is available here.