Majority of children no longer need to shield

The majority of children currently considered extremely clinical vulnerable to COVID-19 will be able to be removed from the shielded patient list, the Government has confirmed in the latest shielding guidance.

 

Independent evidence from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), working with specialists in paediatric medicine, shows the risk of serious illness for children and young people is low and only those with the most severe conditions should now be considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

Children will only be removed from the shielded patient list by their GP or specialist doctor following consultation with the child and their family. Specialists and GPs will be asked to contact children and their families to discuss this over the summer, so families do not need to take any immediate action.

The latest guidance is in line with the recommendations from the RCPCH and is as follows:

  • A small group of children who receive specialist care in hospitals may need to carry on shielding following a consultation with their doctor. This includes those receiving cancer care or those at risk of severe infection due to an immunodeficiency
  • Most other children who were initially identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer be considered at highest risk. In particular, children and young people who are cared for just by their GP are very unlikely to need to continue to shield in the long term. This includes children with conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and kidney disease.

Dr Mike Linney, Registrar at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: "Lockdown has been tough on children generally, but especially for those who have been shielding. It’s been a long haul for thousands of families, and we hope this announcement brings some relief. Fortunately children are less affected by COVID-19. This appears to be the case not just in the UK but world-wide. However, they have suffered from the social effects of lock down, isolation, and school closures.

"We know that many families who have been shielding will have concerns. The important point of this guidance is that paediatricians and specialist doctors now have better information to discuss shielding with patients and their families. Children under the sole care of a GP are very unlikely to need to continue shielding, but if you are worried, seek reassurance.

"Should we face a second wave, this guidance will allow us to make better decisions about who needs to shield. It was right to be cautious when we knew so little about the virus, but we now have a lot of evidence to guide us. We can be confident that the vast majority of children and young people don’t need to shield."