On 22 June, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health updated its guidance on children (up to the age of 18) who are currently shielding. The extract below breaks those currently shielding into three groups, and the guidance gives much more detail of who is in each of the groups. This provides further clarity and may aid your planning for September.
The original shielded patients list was intended to identify people with particular conditions which put them at highest clinical risk of severe morbidity or mortality from COVID-19, based on our understanding of the disease at the time. It was developed early in the outbreak when there were very little data or evidence about the groups most at risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes, and so was intended to be a dynamic list that would adapt as our knowledge of the disease improved and more evidence became apparent.
Over the last few weeks, RCPCH has worked with paediatric specialties to review this evidence and revise the advice on which children and young people are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ to COVID-19 infection and therefore should continue to shield.
This has indicated that not all those children and young people who are currently advised to shield need to continue to do so. The new guidance explains – the majority of children with conditions including asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and kidney disease do not need to continue to shield and can, for example, return to school as it reopens. This includes many children with conditions such as cerebral palsy and scoliosis, for whom the benefits of school - in terms of access to therapies and developmental support – far outweigh the risk of infection.
- Children and young people who are cared for just in primary care are very unlikely to need to continue to shield.
- A small group of children who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ due to their pre-existing condition will need to continue to shield.
- A further larger group of children exists who due to their underlying condition may need to shield and the decision to continue to shield would normally result from a discussion between the clinician, the child and their family.