Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Northern Ireland updates on Covid-19 information for people with diabetes

Updated 12 April with information on restrictions being eased, shielding and latest news on the vaccination programme for the 40-44 age group:

This page is specifically about guidance for people affected by diabetes in Northern Ireland. We'll continue to share relevant information provided by the NI Executive.

Current restrictions in Northern Ireland

Following a relaxation of restrictions on 12 April, the following restrictions are in force:

  • People are being advised to stay local, and work from home unless unable to do so 
  • No private indoor gatherings, except for those with childcare or other caring responsibilities
  • Outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people from a maximum of two households
  • Outdoor sports training is limited to 15 people.

A 'pathway to recovery' blueprint on how restrictions was also published by the Northern Ireland Executive on 2 March. You can read the blueprint for more information. 

During this period:

  • All school pupils can return to school
  • Childcare remains open
  • Close contact services such as hair salons continue to be shut and cafes and restaurants are only able to do takeaway services
  • Non-essential shops can operate a click-and-collect only, however outdoor retail such as car sales, car washes and garden centres can open.

It is important that everyone, particularly people living with diabetes, limits their social contact, keeps at least a two-metre social distance when possible, wears a face covering in enclosed spaces, and washes their hands regularly. 

The next formal review of the coronavirus regulations in Northern Ireland will take place on 15 April.

To see the restrictions in full, please visit the NI Direct website.

Shielding

From 12 April, anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) and can't work from home can return to their workplace if the appropriate coronavirus safety measures are in place.

Find out more about the advice for CEV people on the NI Direct website.

Vaccines

The coronavirus vaccination programme began in Northern Ireland in December, starting with health and social care staff and care homes.

Since 17 February, GP surgeries have been inviting clinically vulnerable people over the age of 18 to receive their vaccine. This includes people aged over 18 with diabetes. For people living with diabetes aged 16 and 17, it is our understanding they will shortly be invited for a vaccine. An announcement on this is expected within the next number of weeks. Under-16s are not currently included in the vaccination programme, except for in very exceptional circumstances.

While excellent progress has been made, we know there are still some people with diabetes under 40 who are yet to be invited for a vaccine. We understand you will be anxious to receive your vaccine as soon as possible. However, this phase of the programme is expected to take several weeks to complete. This is based on the supply of vaccines to your GP surgery.

We would encourage you to be patient and wait until you are contacted by your GP. They have no influence over the speed and supply of vaccines and are currently facing extreme pressures.

Of course, if you’re concerned about your health, it is important to seek medical advice and to always attend your routine appointments.

The following people (including those within these groups with diabetes) are also being invited for a vaccine in a regional vaccination centre, or a community pharmacy:

  • People over 16 who previously received a shielding letter because they are extremely clinically vulnerable 
  • People aged 40 and above
  • Carers over the age of 18

These groups, except for carers, can book an appointment online or telephone 0300 200 7813 for a vaccination. If you’re CEV, you'll need to provide your shielding letter to confirm that you're eligible. For carers, the process is slightly different who must book their appointment through their HSC Trust.

In a further acceleration of the vaccination programme, on 29 March the SSE Arena in Belfast became a vaccination centre. This will enable at least 4,000 people a day to be vaccinated. 

If you are living with diabetes and aged over 40, or a carer, and have not yet received an invitation from your GP, we would encourage you to proceed to book your vaccine online or through your Trust. If you have already received your vaccine appointment from your GP, we advise you to keep that appointment.

We've got more information about the coronavirus vaccines, including how they work. Plus, you can find out more details about the vaccination programme in Northern Ireland.

Looking after yourself during the lockdown

We have lots of information to help you look after yourself in our guide to diabetes. If you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed, you're not alone.

We've got lots of guidance on how to cope with certain emotions and how things like stress can affect your blood sugar levels. Our Learning Zone will help you get to grips with diabetes, both physically and mentally.

And whether you'd prefer to chat to others on our online forum or give one of our helpline team a call, we're here to support you. You can always contact us directly here in Northern Ireland too. The team is working from home but we can still be reached on n.ireland@diabetes.org.uk.

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