COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter plan 2021

20 September 2021

The UK Government has published the COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter plan 2021, which sets out its strategy for managing COVID-19 during the autumn and winter period. Below is a summary of the contents:

The Government’s plan includes:

  1. Building our defences through vaccine and treatments
  2. Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission 
  3. Supporting the NHS and social care
  4. Advising people on how to protect themselves and others.
  5. Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border. 

There is evidence that vaccine protection can reduce over time, so there will be a vaccine booster campaign from next week for those at greatest risk. This booster vaccine for the most vulnerable, will be for those aged over 50, frontline NHS and care workers.

Anybody with symptoms should self-isolate and can still get a free PCR test and the Government will continue to provide access to free lateral flow tests.

Alongside these measures, it is vital that we all continue to take steps to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. By practising safer behaviours and actions we can continue to protect ourselves and others and help stop the virus spreading.

We should:

  • get vaccinated if you have not done so already
  • Meeting outdoors is safer. If you are meeting indoors let fresh air in 
  • Wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • If you are not feeling well and have COVID symptoms, self-isolate and take a test
  • Try to stay at home if you are feeling unwell
  • Wash your hands regularly to help limit the spread of COVID-19
  • Download and use the NHS COVID-19 App
Update on shielding for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people

Due to falling prevalence of COVID-19, shielding advice was paused on 1 April 2021 and, since 19 July 2021, people who were previously identified as CEV have been advised to follow the same guidance and behaviours as the rest of the adult population. The proven effectiveness of the vaccine rollout across the entire population has reduced the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. This also applies to CEV individuals, the majority of whom will be well-protected by the vaccine. Third doses have been offered for those with severely weakened immune systems.

Therefore, the clinical advice has now been updated to say that the shielding programme can end. Letters will be issued shortly to those affected.