Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
The advice to those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, previously ‘shielding’ changed from 22nd December to advise those within this group that they should no longer attend work or school outside the home. This is particularly the case for those whose work requires them to be in regular or sustained contact with other people, or where individuals share a poorly ventilated workspace for long periods. This advice was put in place until 7th February and the letters that were issued covered the period to this date.
The Chief Medical Officer has reviewed the position and indicated that the period this advice covers should extend to 31st March. This takes into account the ongoing high incidence of virus in our communities and our continuing learning around the impacts of new strains of the virus. New letters will issue to those on the shielding patient list over the next fortnight.
By mid-February those on the shielding patient list will be contacted and will receive their first Covid-19 vaccination. It is important people wait to be contacted and also that, when they are invited, they attend and receive their vaccination. Throughout the pandemic we have continued to encourage this group to access the healthcare they need and we consider vaccination to fall within this category.
At present, the advice not to attend work and school outside the home will continue to apply even after both doses of the vaccine have been received. This is because the incidence of coronavirus in our communities remains high and the proportion of people who have been vaccinated is relatively low. This advice is consistent across the four UK nations and will be kept under review by the four Chief Medical Officers.
The consideration of advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable is separate to the coronavirus regulations and, whilst we are still in a challenging period in relation to levels of the virus in our communities, this extended date should not be taken as an indicator of the outcome of alert level reviews during this period.