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Coronavirus Update: Vaccines, lockdowns and shielding

As has been the case over the last year, it is time to realign our lives again with differing levels of lockdown restrictions back in place in all nations and reintroduction of shielding. This article covers some of the updates over the last few weeks.


Changes have been made to the gap between the first dose and second dose of vaccines. The timeframe between doses have increased so that more people get partial protection quicker. This will hopefully mean that the process of vaccinating everyone will speed up and we can get back to some form of normality quicker. Scientists have found that just one dose gives some level of protection. The JCVI priority list order has not changed.

The Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine is now available. This vaccine was mentioned in our previous article. It is important to note that individuals cannot choose which vaccine they have. The vaccines people are offered will be appropriate for them and is based on clinical judgement supported by the advice of Joint Committee on vaccination and immunisation.

For awareness, please note that Which? have identified a fake NHS text that has been circulating, telling people they are eligible to apply for the COVID-19 vaccine. They urge people to make sure loved ones are aware. More information can be found here. You will never be asked to provide bank details when your doctor gets in touch about a vaccine.

More detailed information about vaccines can be found in our previous article available here.

Lockdown and shielding for clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) individuals

There was a clear message for those in England and Scotland that shielding has been reintroduced. Wales reintroduced shielding advice just before Christmas. At the time of publication, Northern Ireland have not reintroduced formal shielding but this may change in the coming days. This statement was provided by NI Executive on the evening of 5 January.

As far as we are aware the list of conditions deemed as CEV for children has not changed and as previously stated there are very few who will be in this category. The BSPGHAN groups are available to view here. RCPCH guidance is available here.

Advice for those who should be shielding is different for those in adult services and is available here.

If you have been advised to shield you should receive a letter from the NHS/Government outlining further details and support services available. This letter should also act as evidence that can be provided to employers if needed.

If you were previously told by your medical team that you/your child no longer needs to shield then continue to abide by this. If still in doubt, contact your/your child’s liver centre.

The extent to which you/your child shields should be determined by taking into account clinical and government advice as well as personal views about what is right for you/your child (e.g. mental health and anxieties).

We haven’t got the warmer weather of previous lockdowns so make sure you keep up spirits with regular exercise and activity as well as socialising with family and friends through phone calls, video calls and Zooms. With the vaccines being rolled out, we have hope that shielding will not have to continue beyond lockdown and we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We will provide updates as and when we receive information that may be appropriate for our families, children and young people.

Information for each nation:

Northern Ireland

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