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.


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.

Winter booster vaccination programme

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended an offer of both COVID-19 and flu vaccination for the following individuals:

  • residents and staff working in care homes for older adults
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all adults aged 65 and over
  • people aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group
  • people aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • people aged 16 to 64 who are carers

Details on eligible conditions for the winter vaccines can be found on NHS Inform The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine and health conditions | NHS inform (

Those who are pregnant are considered to be in the clinical risk group within the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Ending the Highest Risk List does not impact on our ability to identify those eligible for additional vaccinations or new COVID-19 treatments.

People eligible for Anti-Viral Treatments can still access lateral flow testing online or via 119.

All invites for those aged 12 and over have now been sent via letter, email or text, depending on your communication preference. If you feel that you are eligible, but have not received an invite, then you can self-book via the online portal or by calling the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013.

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 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.

We will be doing a data refresh of the at risk group later in the winter, to identify those who have been newly diagnosed with a new eligible condition, or who have commenced treatment, since the start of the programme.

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.

Future communication

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:

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