Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for people who were on the Highest Risk List
Advice to help people who were on the Highest Risk List make informed decisions and access support services.
This document is part of a collection
The COVID-19 Highest Risk List ended on 31 May 2022
The success of the vaccination programme and the availability of new medicines to treat COVID-19 mean that the majority of people on the List are at no greater risk from COVID-19 than the general population. We have strong clinical evidence to support this which meant we could end the List.
We will still be able to contact the people we need to if there’s any need for any different advice in the future.
Advice for people with a weakened immune system
In this advice we are using the term ‘weakened immune system’. The definition of who we mean when we say “weakened immune system” is defined under “immunosuppression” in the Green Book Chapter on COVID-19, tables 3 and 4.
People with a weakened immune system might not develop the same level of immunity from the vaccination as others. This means that some people with a weakened immune system may still be at higher risk from COVID-19, although many do get some protection from the vaccine. Read advice for people with a weakened immune system.
Staying safe at work
Visit our safer workplaces page for guidance on going or returning to work, and staying safe in the workplace.
Vaccination is still the most important way to protect yourself and other people. You and your friends and family should get all the vaccinations we offer you as soon as you can. Talk to your GP or specialist clinician if you are not sure about vaccinations.
It is important that as many people as possible in these vulnerable groups are fully protected, particularly as protection wanes over time.
COVID-19 spring booster vaccination programme
Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on 7 March 2023, the COVID-19 Spring Booster dose is being offered to:
- adults aged 75 years and over (or who will turn 75 by 30 June 2023)
- residents in care homes for older adults
- people aged 5 years and over with a weakened immune system, as set out in the Green Book chapter 14a, tables 3 and 4.
It is important that everyone who is eligible takes up a booster this spring. All vaccines will increase your protection against being severely ill from COVID-19.
Wherever possible, the aim will be to ensure those who have a weakened immune system are offered the dose they are eligible for at the earliest opportunity with the minimum recommended gap between doses to ensure maximum protection from the virus.
Receiving your spring booster vaccination appointment
Residents in care homes for older adults will receive their vaccine through their care home from 27 March 2023.
NHS Scotland will contact you by letter, email or text, depending on your contact preferences you have previously selected. Please wait to be contacted.
If you are aged 75 years and over (or who will turn 75 by 30 June 2023) you will be contacted with a scheduled appointment date and time with appointments starting from 11 April 2023.
If your child is aged 5 to 11 years and has a weakened immune system you will be contacted with a scheduled appointment date and time with appointments starting from 24 April 2023. Please note your child must have turned five by 1 April 2023 to be eligible for a spring booster.
If you or your child are aged 12 to 74 years and have a weakened immune system you will be contacted with a scheduled appointment date and time or you will receive a prompt with instructions on how to book an appointment online or via the helpline. Appointments for this group will be offered from 24 April 2023.
If your child received one paediatric COVID-19 dose and has since turned 12 they should complete their primary course i.e. second dose with a paediatric dose. As not all clinics offer paediatric doses, parents in this situation cannot book or reschedule using the booking portal and should call the helpline to book or reschedule.
If you are eligible for a spring booster vaccination, but do not receive an appointment or a prompt, you can book via the online portal, or by calling the National Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013. If you are unsure if you are eligible or have a weakened immune system, you can call the helpline who can refer you to your local Health Board or you can phone your GP or secondary care health professional, who will determine if you should get a spring booster.
If you have previously selected to receive vaccination appointments or reminders by email please remember to check your junk folder. Please note this will come from an @nhs.scot email address.
The spring programme will end on 30 June 2023 and we would encourage all those eligible to take up the offer when they are called forward.
Vaccinations for children aged 6 months to 4 years at a higher risk of COVID-19
Following additional advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on 6th April 2023, children aged 6 months to 4 years who have specific medical conditions which place them at greater risk from COVID-19 should be offered a COVID-19 vaccine. The Scottish Government will, in discussion with NHS health boards and clinical experts, carefully consider how to effectively operationalise this advice to ensure children are vaccinated in the safest and most supportive way. Parents and carers of children aged between 6 months to 4 years who are in a clinical risk group (as defined in the Green Book) need not do anything. You will be contacted in due course.
How to reschedule an appointment
If you’re unable to attend your appointment, you can rearrange it online at www.nhsinform.scot/springbooster using your unique username, postcode, date of birth and email address. Your username can be found on your appointment letter or any of your previous COVID-19 vaccination letters. If you are unable to attend your COVID-19 vaccination appointment, please cancel or reschedule. This will allow us to offer the appointment to someone else
If you’re not able to get online, call the Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 who have access to the same booking portal and can rearrange your appointment for you.
Support with your vaccination
Support is available from your local health board if you need help finding transport to your vaccination appointment. Please visit NHS Inform for more information.
General help with planning your public transport journey is available on the Traveline Scotland website or by phoning 0141 465 1878 (open 24 hours).
If you’re unable to leave your home (due to your mobility/physical ability or mental health condition) please call 0800 030 8013 and your request will be sent to your local health board.
You may bring a carer, a sighted guide/translator or a guide/hearing dog to your appointment, if required.
It’s vital that you take up the offer of vaccination – it protects you and those you support against serious COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 immunity wanes over time, but a winter dose can restore your protection and reduce your risk of severe COVID-19 illness.
More information about the winter vaccination programme can be found at: Spring coronavirus (COVID-19) booster | NHS inform
Prioritising vaccinations and new treatments
We have not been using the Highest Risk List to prioritise people for vaccination for some time now or to identify people who meet the criteria for new treatments such as antivirals. Ending the Highest Risk List does not have an impact on identifying those who are eligible for additional vaccinations or new COVID-19 treatments.
Stay Well signage
Stay Well Signage is a voluntary scheme allowing organisations and businesses to show what protective measures are in place in their spaces to help keep us all safe and well. It supports organisations and businesses to establish and embed long-term adaptations which will build infection resilient spaces around Scotland. This will be particularly re-assuring for those people at highest risk from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.
Support to get back to the things you used to do
Many people who were on the Highest Risk List have told us about the impact on their mental health and wellbeing. We have published advice if you are more worried, or isolated, or struggling to reconnect with people and things you were doing before the pandemic.
Distance Aware Scheme
If you want to, you can wear a badge or lanyard with a blue and yellow shield when you’re out in public places to show other people you would like some extra space and care taken around you, for any reason. Read more about the Distance Aware badge and lanyard scheme.
Support from your local council
If you need additional support, your local council may be able to provide advice on where to get this. This might include local third sector organisations or projects. For further information, you can contact your local council.
Letters to people who were on the Highest Risk List
We publish letters that have gone out to people who were on the Highest Risk List. Translations or alternative formats of the letters are uploaded on request.
Public Health Scotland will take on the role of identifying people at highest risk with the help of NHS. Public Health Scotland can also inform people of new treatments or vaccinations.
If needed, we could again write to people at highest risk and reopen the text messaging service used before.
Background on decision to end Highest Risk List
If you were on the Highest Risk List, the Chief Medical Officer will have written to you with further details about the end of the list.
For more information:
- read our news release about why we’re ending the Highest Risk List
- read our evidence review, which summarises scientific evidence behind decisions about the Highest Risk List
- read our End of Covid Highest Risk (formerly Shielding) List: equality and fairer Scotland impact assessment
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