Keeping yourself safe as restrictions ease

We understand that people with primary and secondary immunodeficiency are faced with making difficult decisions about how to best manage their risk with regard to COVID-19 at a time when the UK is lifting restrictions and we are seeing COVID-19 cases rising daily. 

Whilst the COVID vaccination programme has helped weaken the link between COVID infection and developing serious illness for many in society this is not the case for people with immunodeficiency, especially those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group who were previously asked to shield.  

For many in this group it is unlikely that you will be fully protected by COVID-19 vaccination or a previous COVID-19 infection. We hope you will have some protection, but it is too early to know how much, and we are eagerly waiting for the results of ongoing research.  We also know that immunoglobulin products do not currently contain any protective COVID-19 antibodies.

It is important to know that you are still at risk of catching COVID-19 and becoming very unwell with it.  You should remain cautious and take steps to lower your risk of contracting COVID.

People are not being advised to shield, but if you remain in doubt about your COVID risk level these website pages may be helpful:

Immunodeficiency UK - Coronavirus risk level advice for PID patients

Immunodeficiency UK - Coronavirus risk level advice for SID patients

Managing risk

People will make different decisions as to how to best manage their situation.  Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you feel comfortable with your own decisions, that you don't feel pressurised into doing anything you are uncomfortable with, and equally that you don't feel guilty about doing things that are important to you.

Steps to lower your risk:

  • The rules of FACE, SPACE and HANDS remain effective and good to follow
  • Avoid inside, poorly ventilated or crowded places as much as possible
  • Ensure good ventilation in your home by keeping windows and doors open where possible. Please see the COVID-19: ventilation of indoor spaces guidance for more information
  • Consider taking regular rapid COVID tests. These are available free
  • Keep the number of different people you meet with low
  • Meet people outdoors rather than indoors
  • Encourage your close contacts to accept vaccination if they are eligible. Remember it takes at least 2 weeks to develop any immunity or protection. 
  • Choose to meet with people who you trust, understand your need to be extra careful and who are not mixing widely themselves
  • Take advantage of available COVID-19 testing for close contacts or visitors to reduce risk further. Lateral flow tests are currently available for this purpose and are free.
  • Keep yourself up to date with the levels of COVID infection are in your area or an area where you may want to visit.  The BBC website has a useful postcode checker
  • Booster vaccinations may be on offer in September. If these do go ahead and you are offered a booster vaccination, please consider accepting this.

Consider ordering one of our 'STEP BACK' badges, to let people know you still need space. Please get in touch with us to order one.

Going to work

Your overall risk depends upon your combination of age & health conditions, the nature of your work and community infection levels. There is no 'one size fits all'‚ answer.  You can use the ALAMA risk assessment tool to calculate your 'COVID age' and other resources on the website to help inform discussions with your employer.

Please also see our guide on going back to work which gives links to lots of other information on your rights at work and a letter you can show to your employer.

Looking after your emotional health

With cases of COVID rising daily people are telling us they feel unsafe and extremely concerned about the easing of restrictions.  Not having the government support to be able to shield if they feel unsafe, is also becoming increasingly difficult. There are also uncertainties about how effective the vaccines will be.  All this uncertainty makes it difficult to look to the future, to plan, to feel hopeful or even happy. It might also be having an impact on your employment or personal relationships. Uncertainty can also cause anxiety, feeling out of control, anger or sadness.

Here are some resources that may help:

Immunodeficiency UK - COVID-19 and your emotional wellbeing

Dealing with uncertainty

Patient perspectives of living with the threat of COVID

Covid-19: 'For us it's not freedom day, is it?'

Living with the threat of COVID - my approach

Useful links

UK Government advice - 19th July guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Access to lateral flow tests for asymptomatic people

Scotland

COVID-19 daily data

Coronavirus (COVID-19) protection levels: what you can do - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Wales

Restrictions from 17 July: summary | GOV.WALES

Restrictions from 17 July: frequently asked questions | GOV.WALES

Guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19), previously known as 'shielding'

Northern Ireland

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations and guidance: what they mean for you | nidirect

Staying safe | nidirect

Posted 22nd July 2021