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Advice for people at increased risk from COVID-19 and antiviral oral medication

If you're at increased risk from COVID-19

We now know more about COVID-19 and the health conditions that can make a person vulnerable to serious illness if they become infected.

If you have a weakened immune system due to a particular health condition, you may have a reduced ability to fight COVID-19. 

Vaccination

The best protection you can give yourself is to keep up to date with your vaccines, and make sure you are boosted. 

Its not too late to get your vaccine. It provides the most effective way of preventing you from become seriously unwell or going into hospital. Your family members are encouraged to make sure they are up to date too.

Vaccination information

Advice and precautions

You should continue to practice the same guidance as everyone else, which helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep us safe. 

Protecting yourself and others from coronavirus

As someone with a health condition you may want to consider, alongside any advice from your GP or clinician, if additional precautions and lower risk activities are right for you.

These may include:

  • considering whether you and the people you are meeting have been vaccinated. You might want to wait until 14 days after everyone's most recent dose vaccine before being in close contact
  • asking friends and family to take a lateral flow test (LFT) before they visit you
  • asking home visitors to wear face coverings
  • avoiding enclosed crowded spaces and activities where physical distancing is difficult

If you're immune systems puts you at risk

Your immune system may be weakened due to a health condition or because you are on medication or undergoing treatment that is suppressing your immune system. This means you will have a reduced ability to fight infections and disease, including COVID-19. Most people will be under the care of a specialist clinician at the hospital.

Because of the risks associated with being immunosuppressed, or having a specific medical condition, you should take some extra precautions to keep yourself protected from COVID-19 and becoming seriously unwell.

Who is included

If you belong in this group, you should follow this guidance to keep yourself safe.

You are eligible for a third primary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, for instance:

  • blood cancers (such as leukaemia or lymphoma)
  • lowered immunity due to treatment (such as steroid medication, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
  • lowered immunity due to inherited disorders of the immune system
  • an organ or bone marrow transplant
  • diseases that affect the immune system such as poorly controlled HIV
  • other diseases or treatments as advised by your specialist

You are eligible for antiviral treatments, if you are PCR positive with symptoms of COVID-19:

  • are a person with Down's Syndrome
  • have a rare condition affecting the brain or nerves (including multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington's disease or myasthenia gravis)
  • have sickle cell disease
  • have certain types of cancer
  • have HIV or AIDS
  • have a severe liver condition (such as cirrhosis)
  • have chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 or 5
  • have had an organ transplant
  • have certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • have a condition or treatment that makes you more likely to get infections
  • have had certain types of chemotherapy in the last 12 months
  • have had radiotherapy in the last 6 months

Ways to protect yourself

If you have a weakened immune system, you are advised to:

  • make sure you have had all of the vaccines you are eligible to receive, including your booster
  • continue to follow any advice you may have been given by your specialist clinician
  • before being in close contact with other people, wait 14 days after their most recent dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, speak to your employer about what temporary arrangements they can make to reduce your risk
  • avoid enclosed crowded spaces
  • practice physical distancing if that feels right for you and your friends
  • keep your home ventilated by opening windows and doors to let fresh air in
  • ask friends and family to take a lateral flow test (LFT) before visiting
  • ask people visiting your home to wear face coverings
  • wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face

Children and young people should attend their school unless their clinician has advised otherwise.

Vaccination information

If you have COVID-19 symptoms

If you develop any coronavirus symptoms, even if they are mild, book a PCR test as soon as possible by calling the Coronavirus helpline or book a PCR test online.

Book a PCR test

It is important to remember that the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to ensure your vaccinations are up to date. 

Vaccination information

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