December 2021 update
From July 2021 the advice from Westminster covering covid-19 changed. This allowed more freedom to socialise, retail and hospitality re-opening and reducing the use of face masks.
Following the emergence of the omicron variant there has been increasing concern about the level of infection and increased transmissibility of covid-19. As a result, measures to encourage use of face masks were reintroduced in areas of the UK where they had been lifted.
The four UK nations are each adopting slightly different policies that best manage the COVID-19 pandemic in their areas, not least because case numbers vary across the countries.
The official guidance now means that, as a clinically vulnerable person, you are no longer being advised to remain at home. In December 2021 the omicron variant reached the UK and has become the most common strain of the virus. It appears to be more infectious and is being transmitted across the population.
As a result, people are being encouraged to ensure their vaccinations and boosters are up to date. Additional measures on mask wearing, working from home, when possible, have been re-introduced and socialising with limited numbers is being recommended.
Whilst vaccination offers protection against severity of infection the new strain has been a cause for concern. It is possible additional restrictions on hospitality and social gatherings may be required if the pressure on the NHS and risk of infection increases.
The COVID-19 virus can change, or “mutate”, and can alter how it is able to spread and infect people. The “Omicron variant”, which you may have heard about in the news, is an example of this. Further variants are possible, even likely, and this situation is being closely monitored, not least because of the possible impact a new variant may have on people who are clinically vulnerable.
At present shielding is still paused. However, you may wish to limit the amount of time you spend in public areas for shopping and socialising. Prior to meeting with friends and family it is advised that everyone carries out a lateral flow test and does not meet up if they have potential symptoms, or test positive. Good ventilation, face coverings, social distancing, hand washing and limiting the number of households you have contact with can reduce your exposure.
Each devolved nation has detailed information about the changes in shielding guidance and what it means for you:
The Welsh Government are closely monitoring infection levels. The advice for those who are clinically vulnerable can be found here:
The advice for Northern Ireland is also being monitored the latest version can be found here:
The current rising infection rates and uncertainty may make you feel worried and concerned. We understand that many people with lung cancer have had a difficult 20 months trying to balance keeping safe and maintaining important social and personal connections.
Your sense of risk from covid-19 may remain strong.
Think about which options feel right for you now. As the guidance changes, adjust what you do in a way that keeps you physically and mentally healthy. Do not feel pressured by others if you feel uncomfortable with additional contacts and activities.
What feels right will vary from person to person. Some people may want to think about currently receiving treatment, how isolated they feel and the current infection rates in their area. Many organisations are offering additional support via the telephone and online to support people who may have had to restrict their everyday activities. You can use these services, try and keep in regular with friends and family via online and phone as well as keeping active out of doors if these are important things to keep you well. Whilst health and social care services are facing a strain, priority will be given to you if you are clinically vulnerable and need care. NHS helplines, cancer services and pharmacy support are working, as are emergency services. Priority will be given to cancer services.
We recognise that the new wave has created more worry and can bring uncertainty, including consideration of what family and friends to see during the festive season. Where practical do what you can to keep yourself well. This includes reducing your exposure to covid-19 infection, but also looking after your mental and physical wellbeing by staying active and staying in touch with your closest contacts.