Report: Coronavirus and clinically extremely vulnerable people in England

  • The COVID High Risk Group Insights Survey was compiled rapidly in response to policy questions on whether the population who had been advised to shield were following shielding guidance and the impact on their life and behaviours.
  • It was produced, run and analysed in a collaboration between the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS Digital (NHS-D) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
  • Of those who were aware of the government advice to shield, 59% reported completely following that advice.
  • When asked between 18 and 30 January 2021, almost a quarter (24%) of the clinically extremely vulnerable population had not left their home in the last seven days.
  • Of those who had left home in the last seven days, almost half (48%) had gone out to the shops or pharmacy.
  • At the time of asking (18 to 30 January 2021), clinically extremely vulnerable people had begun to receive or be offered the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine; 35% had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Of those who had not had the COVID-19 vaccine, 91% reported they would be likely to accept the vaccine if offered, or already had an appointment confirmed to receive the vaccine.
  • 1 in 20 clinically extremely vulnerable people (5%) were unsure or did not specify whether they would accept the COVID-19 vaccine, whereas 4% were unlikely to accept the vaccine.

Statistician’s comment

“During the coronavirus pandemic, 2.2 million people have been identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable and are advised to shield from others to protect themselves from the virus. Following the government announcement of a national lockdown on 4 January, this guidance was reintroduced from 6 January for the first time since 1 August 2020.

“Most clinically extremely vulnerable people, who are aware of the government guidance to shield, reported completely following the guidance, however, our analysis shows us that 4 in 10 are not doing so.

“Our analysis also shows us that 1 in 4 clinically extremely vulnerable people (24%) have not left the home in the last seven days, despite advice that they can leave for exercise or essential medical appointments. We expect to see that number fall, as people venture out as the vaccine distribution rolls out further across England.”

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