Position statement on shielding and other measures to protect leukaemia patients at high risk of severe COVID-19

Leukaemia Care are calling on the governments of all 4 UK nations to increase support for any vulnerable people who wish to shield to protect themselves.

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Leukaemia Care are calling on the governments of all 4 UK nations to increase support for any vulnerable people who wish to shield to protect themselves.

Despite the rollout of highly effective vaccinations, COVID-19 remains a threat to many patients with leukaemia. Many are immunosuppressed, either constantly due to the nature of their illness or due to treatments they are receiving, making them more likely to experience severe COVID-19. Studies have shown that antibody responses to vaccines in certain groups of patients is a cause for concern.

Throughout the pandemic, patients have told us that shielding was a difficult thing to do and we understand the concerns that shielding has an impact on mental health. However, we know that many people are taking precautions akin to shielding regardless. This is despite the support to do so being wound up over 2021. In effect they are shielding without support.

Whilst we recognise not all leukaemia patients would wish to shield, for those who do, the need for support is even more urgent with cases higher than ever before and the emergence of the Omicron variant; it is unknown how severe this variant is in those with reduced protection from the vaccine. However, many leukaemia patients have considered themselves to be shielding throughout the pandemic, taking precautions above and beyond the advice from the government.

Charlotte Martin, Patient Advocacy Manager at Leukaemia Care, said: “Leukaemia Care are calling on the governments of all 4 nations of the UK to urgently reinstate support for those who are shielding. This should include support for those unable to work from home or feel their workplace is unsafe for them, support for those who live alone, and support to more safely access food, medicines and travel to healthcare appointments. This must be implemented immediately; those who are vulnerable are at risk now and cannot wait for wider restrictions before they are given support. We’re hearing from many patients that they are currently #ShieldingWithoutSupport.”

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