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Staying safe and government guidance

We're here for you if you want to talk

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Coronavirus guidance for children at high risk

This page links to government guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for children who are clinically extremely vulnerable, and explains what you can do to protect them.

Should my child be shielding?

Last updated: 13 October 2020

The risk of catching coronavirus is different in different areas of the UK. Wherever you live, you should now follow the guidance for the COVID alert level in that particular area. See our information on local lockdowns.

In some of the worst affected areas (tier 3 areas in England), the government may recommend that people on the shielding patient list start to shield again. If this happens in your area, your child should receive a new shielding letter explaining what to do.

Whether or not your child is advised to shield, this page explains some practical things you can do to protect them and provides links to government guidance in the four countries of the UK.

Government guidance

Last updated: 13 October 2020

As we move through the pandemic, guidelines are changing as levels of risk change in different parts of the UK. This can make it difficult to think through it all and decide what’s best for your child.

Remember that it’s your choice what your family does to limit your child's risk of catching coronavirus, above and beyond what's required or advised in your area. Your child's healthcare team are best placed to give you personalised advice about your child's individual risk and sensible precautions to take.

We have separate information about which children are at high risk and about understanding levels of risk. You may also find it helpful to read our information on practical support and coping with your emotions.

Below you'll find link to the latest guidance in each of the four countries of the UK, both for the general population, and for adults and children who are clinically extremely vulnerable:


You can enter a postcode in this checker to find out what COVID alert level (tier) applies in your area, and what you can and cannot do under local rules.



Northern Ireland

Practical things you can do to protect your child

Last updated: 13 October 2020

As guidelines change, it can be difficult to understand how to apply them in practice. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of your child catching coronavirus, in addition to government guidance for your area.

If your child goes outside, try to help them follow social distancing measures and maintain good hygiene. This means you and your child should:

  • keep 2 metres away from other people outside of your household, support bubble or extended household (in Wales, children of primary school age or younger don't need to do this)
  • avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes (though this may be difficult for younger children)
  • wash your hands thoroughly (for around 20 seconds) as soon as you get back.

You may also want to consider:

  • avoiding places that will be busy
  • avoiding public transport, where possible
  • washing clothes worn outside more regularly (there is some evidence to suggest that coronavirus can stay on fabrics for a few days)
  • wearing a face mask or covering. In some situations, wearing a face mask is mandatory, unless you're exempt. See "Wearing a face mask or covering" below.

See also our information about going to school.

Even if you live in an area of high or very high risk (tier 2 or 3 in England), your child isn't expected to observe social distancing with other members of your household, support bubble or extended household.

To protect your child at home, help them to:

  • regularly wash their hands thoroughly (for 20 seconds) with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser
  • avoid touching their face with their hands (though this may be difficult for younger children).

It's also a good idea to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home.

If members of your household are going out to work or school, they should be following the strict advice to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus in those settings. When they get home, they should wash their hands thoroughly.

If you're still worried, you may want to consider restricting your household's movements outside the home, or taking more precautions in the home, for example:

  • minimising time spent in shared spaces, and keeping shared spaces well ventilated
  • using separate bathrooms (or cleaning them after each use) and using separate towels
  • sleeping separately
  • using separate cutlery, dishcloths and tea towels
  • taking hygiene precautions when leaving and entering the home.

Your child's healthcare team are the best people to advise on the specific precautions your household could take.

The restrictions on meeting up with people outside your household are different in different areas. Check with your local authority what the rules are for adults and children where you live.

The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with coronavirus, and the longer you spend in close contact with them. So if you are allowed to meet people outside your household, support bubble or extended household, it’s important to take extra precautions:

  • keep 2 metres (3 steps) apart (in Wales, children of primary school age or younger don't need to do this)
  • if guidelines allow you to meet inside, keep the area well ventilated
  • don’t share food or utensils
  • avoid being face-to-face (the risk of infection is lower if your child interacts side-by-side)
  • avoid shouting or singing near each other (there is some evidence to suggest that these activities can increase the risk of coronavirus spreading between people).

See also our information about going to school.

Using a face mask may not be appropriate for young children, but if you think your child can manage one, consider giving them a face mask or covering to wear - particularly if they're going anywhere they can't stay two metres apart from other people.

The government has guidance on how to make and wear your own face covering.

There are different rules about when children of a certain age must wear face coverings across the UK. For the latest regulations, visit the relevant government page on face coverings in:

Current advice from the World Health Organisation and the British Veterinary Association is that there’s no evidence that pets can be a source of infection or become sick from coronavirus.

However, there is some evidence that coronavirus can survive on surfaces. This could include your pet’s fur, so it’s important that everyone in your household washes their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals. Avoid letting your pet touch your child's face, and try to encourage your child to avoid touching their own face.

PDSA have more information about pets and coronavirus.

If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable and you also have vulnerable relatives living outside of your support bubble or extended household, there are other people and services that can help. You can also help by being in regular contact.

  • Call your relative regularly to check in with them.
  • If your relative has a garden or nearby outdoor space, you could arrange to meet them outside, staying 2 metres apart, as long as this is allowed in the local guidelines.
  • Ask your relative's neighbours if they could help by bringing them supplies.
  • Ask other family members or friends who are not vulnerable themselves to drop off supplies.
  • Book online deliveries for your relative.
  • If you are worried about your relative getting supplies and don't have anyone nearby that can help, read our page on practical support.
  • Contact their pharmacy if they need a volunteer to deliver their medication.
  • Contact their local council and tell them the situation.
  • Contact Age UK.
  • There are charities and groups in local communities working to support those who are vulnerable – look into anything happening in your relative's local area.

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Support for you

Call our free and confidential helpline on 0808 2080 888 from Monday to Friday, 10am to 7pm, and Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 1pm.

We are currently receiving a very high volume of calls related to coronavirus, so if you're not able to get through straight away, please leave a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

You can also email us if you prefer to get in contact that way. We'll usually get back to you within two working days, but due to the current rate of calls and emails we are currently receiving it may take us longer.

Talk to other people with blood cancer on our Online Community Forum – there is a group for coronavirus questions and support.

You can also find out what's helping other people affected by blood cancer through coronavirus and beyond in our pages on living well with or after blood cancer.

The following companies have provided funding for our coronavirus support, but have had no further input: AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Celgene, Gilead, Incyte, Kyowa Kirin, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda.

We're here for you if you want to talk

0808 2080 888

[email protected]