Children and young people will be removed from the list of people who would be asked to shield and will no longer be considered clinically extremely vulnerable in relation to COVID-19, the Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, has announced.
The decision to remove children and young people from the list of those who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable comes after a comprehensive review of the evidence and has been recommended by all UK Chief Medical Officers.
A study commissioned by the UK Government into the effects of Coronavirus on children and young people found that those in this age group, including those originally considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus, were at very low risk of becoming seriously unwell or dying from the virus.
The new advice will mean approximately 2,700 children and young people will no longer be required to shield in the unlikely event that shielding was to be reintroduced. All children and young people affected by this change will receive a letter from the Chief Medical Officer explaining whilst they are no longer considered clinically extremely vulnerable to the effects of infection with COVID-19, they should continue to take action to minimise their risk of contracting the virus.
The vaccination of some children aged 12 to 15 with specific health conditions, or who live with individuals (adults or children) who are immunosuppressed, will continue, in line with advice that immunisation may be of benefit to certain groups.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, said:
We have taken a cautious, data-driven approach throughout this pandemic and continue to do so. We have looked carefully at the data from the past 18 months and are reassured that children and young people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable should no longer be included on the shielding patient list due to the risk of serious illness or death from Coronavirus being extremely low.
Children and young people have been severely affected by the pandemic, with many missing school and meeting family and friends. The change to the shielding patient list will ensure that only people who really need to follow this advice stay on the list.
We are still learning about the impacts of coronavirus infection, including long COVID, and I encourage everyone in Wales to continue to do all they can to minimise the risk of catching the virus and help keep Wales and their loved ones safe.