Who is at highest risk of coronavirus?

Clinically extremely vulnerable people

UPDATED:  4 April 2022

Given the successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the shielding programme has now ended. If you were previously identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, you are advised to continue to follow the guidance contained in Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread

If you require additional care and support to help you stay safe and well, there is further advice in guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.

The Government are advising clinically extremely vulnerable people, as a minimum, to follow the same guidance as everyone else. It is important that everyone adheres to this guidance.

However, as someone who is 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 choose to limit the close contact with people you do not usually meet, particularly if COVID-19 disease levels in the general community are high. It is important to respect and be considerate of those who may wish to take a more cautious approach.

We understand you may have concerns and wish to know how you can continue to take precautions to keep yourself safe. There are things that you can continue to do to lower your risk of infection and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Although the vast majority of the population, including the clinically extremely vulnerable, will be well protected by the vaccine, no vaccine is 100% effective and there is emerging evidence that suggests that some immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals may not respond as well to COVID-19 vaccines as others. However, all COVID-19 vaccines should offer some degree of protection. Therefore, it is really important that you have both your first and second dose of the coronavirus vaccine and the booster vaccination.

General shielding advice

The guidance for people who are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable remains as follows:

  • It is important to have both your first and second dose of the coronavirus vaccine
  • You should continue to consider the risks of close contact with others, especially in crowded spaces, enclosed indoor spaces with limited fresh air, and when COVID-19 levels are high in the community
  • Try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with or know
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often or use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • Wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people, such as on public transport, in shops and in hospitals.

For practical tips on staying safe, see the guidance for people at high risk from coronavirus (shielding).

The Government has taken advice from clinicians, GPs, charities, the voluntary sector and patient groups.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

These measures apply to England – but there may be different rules if you live in WalesScotland or Northern Ireland.