Coronavirus : Shielding our most vulnerable

Shielding our most vulnerable

Support for extremely vulnerable people and self-isolating residents

General

  • We know that the pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone and recognise that it has been particularly hard for those who have been advised to take extra precautions.
  • Although cases of COVID-19 are currently higher than at other points during the pandemic, they are still below the levels at which shielding was last introduced, with significantly fewer hospitalisations than seen when cases were at similar levels.
  • Coupled with the high levels of vaccination, this means that the risk of catching COVID-19 is lower for everyone, including clinically extremely vulnerable people. This has allowed the Government to ease restrictions for everyone.
  • Clinically extremely vulnerable people are now advised, as a minimum, to follow the same government guidance as the general population, which means the changes that came into effect on 19 July also apply to you. The latest information that we have suggests that having two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine reduces the severity of the illness if you catch the virus. However, as you may remain at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you were to catch COVID-19, you may wish to think particularly carefully about additional precautions you may wish to take. There is a separate guidance page for clinically extremely vulnerable people that contains some examples of additional precautions that you might consider taking.
    • Examples of things they could do to lower their risk of infection:
      • meet outside where possible
      • make sure the space is well ventilated if you meet inside; open windows and doors or take other action to let in plenty of fresh air
      • consider whether you and those you are meeting have been vaccinated – you might want to wait until 14 days after everyone’s second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before being in close contact with others
      • wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face
      • consider continuing to practice social distancing if that feels right for you and your friends
      • ask friends and family to take a lateral flow test before visiting you
      • ask home visitors to wear face coverings

Vaccines

  • The most effective form of protection from COVID-19, even for the most vulnerable, is vaccination.
  • The COVID-19 vaccines are effective for the majority of clinically extremely vulnerable people and provide a significant amount of protection against the virus, including to those who are immunocompromised.
  • It is therefore really important that you have both doses of the vaccine when it is offered to you.
  • It is also important that other members of your household get vaccinated as this will lower your chances of catching COVID-19.
  • You may be offered a booster dose over the coming months to further increase your level of protection. You should take this when it is offered to you.
  • There are a small number of immunocompromised or immunosuppressed people who may be less well protected by the vaccines. Those individuals should know who they are, will always have been at risk of infectious disease and, pre-pandemic, they would have had to make individual risk assessments in consultation with their GP or clinician. If this applies to you then you should get in contact with your GP or specialist to discuss this further.
  • All vaccines offer some level of protection, so you should still get vaccinated against COVID-19 even if you are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed.

Children and young people

  • Children under 16 years of age, even if they are clinically extremely vulnerable, are at low risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 and are not routinely recommended for vaccination.
  • However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advise that the following groups of children should be offered vaccination from COVID-19:
    • 12 to15-year olds with the underlying health conditions specified below:
      • Severe neuro-disabilities 
      • Down’s Syndrome
      • Underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression 
      • Those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities or who are on the learning disability register
    • 12 to 15-year olds who are healthy, but are household contacts of individuals (adults or children) who are immunosuppressed
  • All 16 to17 year olds who are either clinically extremely vulnerable or have underlying health conditions were included in Phase One of the vaccine deployment programme, and have therefore already been offered a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The NHS will contact eligible children aged 12 to 15 to invite them for vaccination. However, if you think that your child is eligible but has not been contacted by the end of August you should contact your GP.

If concerned

  • If you are still concerned about your wellbeing because of COVID-19, you should take a look at the NHS website first.  
  • If following that you are still concerned or have any further questions you should contact your GP or clinician, who can provide you with more advice that is specific to your condition.

The guidance will not affect any social care or support you were receiving. You should continue to contact Oxfordshire County Council’s social and health care team if you have any ongoing social care needs.  

If you need advice on what support is available in the Cherwell area, you can contact the CDC Shield Team

Oxfordshire County Council Shielding Service:

  • Call 01865 897820
  • Email shield@oxfordshire.gov.uk
  • The service is open 8:30am - 5:00pm Monday - Thursday. 8:30am - 4:00pm on Fridays. Closed Saturday - Sunday and Bank Holidays

Find community support near you

If you’re having to self-isolate and don’t have a support network nearby, visit Oxfordshire All In or Oxford Hub (for Oxford residents) for more information on community support available near you.

NHS volunteer responders can support you with:

  • Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies.
  • A regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks.
  • Transport to medical appointments.

Call 0808 196 3646 8am - 8pm to arrange support, or speak to your health care professional for transport support.

Otherwise visit either the Livewell website or the Family Information Service to find out about local support groups in your community.


Food and essential supplies

Good Food Oxford is continuously updating the Oxfordshire food access map to support signposting the most vulnerable in our communities to community food services such as foodbanks, community kitchens and food surplus cafes.

If you are struggling to pay fuel bills please contact Better Housing Better Health or your local Citizens Advice. Your local advice service can also advise on any other welfare or emergency support requirements.


Income and employment support

It is important that you continue to take careful precautions and employers should do all they can to enable you to work from home where this is possible, including moving you to another role if required.

Where this is not possible, those who are at risk should be provided with the safest onsite roles that enable them to maintain social distancing.

The government has produced guidance to help keep you safe when receiving support during this period.

Those on lower incomes who can't work from home and have lost income as a result will be supported by a Test and Trace support payment of £500.

Apply for a self-isolation payment.


List of organisations that can offer support

Kidlington and Surrounding Areas (KASA) Coronavirus Community Help: volunteers to help with food shopping, collect medications, dog walking or a friendly chat. Tel: 01865 817722.

Citizens Advice North Oxon & South Northants: general advice including benefits and universal credit and financial advice. Volunteer Driver Service can arrange to take vulnerable people to hospital appointments.

  • Advice line: 0300 330 9037
  • North Oxon Advice line: 03444 111444
  • Banbury: 01295 221448
  • Bicester: 01869 321806
  • Kidlington: 01865 955919
  • Freephone: 0808 278 7906

Community Connect (Social Prescribing): advice & support for anyone feeling anxious or low mood re COVID-19. Trained staff for Check in and Chat. Tel: 0300 004 0401.

Age UK Oxfordshire Covid 19 helpline: telephone support for older people. Dedicated phoneline and webpage for info and advice to anyone that is concerned about coronavirus. Tel: 01865 411288. Leave a message and an advisor will call you back ASAP.

Oxfordshire Mind: concerned about mental health. Tel: 01865 247788.

Samaritans:help and advice for all situations. Tel: 116 123.

Dementia Support: if you are living with dementia or are concerned for your loved one at this difficult time, please call Alzheimer UK's Dementia Connect support line. Tel: 0333 150 3456.