Who has been added to the Covid shielding list and why?
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Many more vulnerable people are being asked to shield after being identified as being at serious risk of coronavirus.
Hundreds of people across the region are among the around 1.7 million people across England who have been added to the Shielded Patient List (SPL).
Letters will be arriving imminently telling people they should be in the shielding group.
Half the group have not yet been vaccinated so will now be prioritised urgently by their local GPs.
It comes after a new model was developed that takes into account extra factors rather than just health.
Who is now on the shielding list?
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High risk categories include:
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- Some people with cancer who are undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months
- People on immunosuppression drugs
- Women who are pregnant and have heart disease
- People with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and COPD
- Some people with rare diseases such as severe combined immunodeficiency
- Adults with Down's syndrome
- Adults on dialysis or with stage 5 chronic kidney disease
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How have those at high risk been identified?
The NHS has worked with the University of Oxford to identify the pieces of information about people and their health that are needed by the risk assessment model to generate as accurate risk assessment results as possible.
Specific pieces of information from the records of people who could potentially be considered high risk has been found in existing datasets held by NHS Digital.
What other factors have been included in the decision?
The model used combines a number of underlying risk factors. As well as specific health conditions and treatments, that includes age, which is the highest risk factor, sex, ethnicity, body mass index and postcode, which is linked to a deprivation score.
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said: "It provides a weighted cumulative risk of serious outcomes from Covid-19, and therefore allows us to prioritise these individuals for vaccination, and to give them appropriate advice.
"And the easiest way for us to do that is to include them on the shielded patient list."
Are those now told to shield young or old?
The Department of Health and Social Care said the group includes more than 800,000 adults aged between 19 and 69 who will now be prioritised for a vaccination.
The other 900,000 are over 70 and will have already been offered their Covid-19 jab.
What extra help will those now shielding get?
Those added to the list will receive the additional support available to those deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable, including medicine deliveries, priority slots for supermarkets and statutory sick pay.
Officials have said they will be advising that shielding continues until March 31.
What about patients not added to the list?
GPs can access details of their patients who were risk assessed, but whose assessment results did not meet the agreed threshold to be added to the SPL. Some of these patients may have been close to the threshold and GPs have the option of reviewing these individually.