The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Covid-19 advice for Rheumatology patients

COVID-19 latest news:

Updated 15th December 2021.

You may be aware that some patients taking immunosuppressive drugs may soon be eligible for treatment with drugs that can treat Covid, if they catch the infection but aren’t unwell enough to be admitted to hospital. We are currently waiting for further information about how this will be arranged from the NHS authorities who are organising this.

This website will be updated when more information is available.

If you are unwell with confirmed Covid then you should continue to seek urgent medical advice from 111 or your GP.


Updated 12th October 2021.

Please see below FAQS sheet regarding the 3rd primary dose COVID vaccine:

3rd primary dose COVID FAQS


Updated 15th February 2021.

The national guidance around shielding, immunosuppressant medications and covid-19 vaccinations is periodically updated. Our Rheumatology shielding list is also periodically updated to make sure it correctly matches official guidance. If the Leeds Rheumatology department identified you as being Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (Shielding), then you will have received a letter directly from the Rheumatology Department.

It is possible for patients to have been placed on and subsequently removed from the Shielding list by other organisations or departments.

You can use our flow chart below to check which category you fall into as a result of your Rheumatology condition. If you do not fall into the shielding (Clinically Extremely Vulnerable) category and you are under the age of 65 and on an immunosuppressant medication then you are likely to be eligible for vaccination in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority group 6. Vaccination in this group is now beginning and patients will be contacted about how to book a vaccine appointment. These arrangements are not made by the Rheumatology department.

The NHS is keen to reassure patients that you will be contacted as soon as you are eligible for vaccination.

Remote clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic

Rheumatology clinics have been significantly altered during the pandemic. Here is some information that you may find useful if you are due a rheumatology clinic appointment. 

Coronavirus vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccines available in the UK are safe to have if you are on immunosuppressants or steroids. You should continue to take your medication as normal when receiving the vaccine. Once you receive the vaccine, we advise you to continue to follow official government guidance about continuing usual precautions. 

In addition to the coronavirus vaccine, we advise all our patients on immunosuppressant therapies to have their annual flu vaccination as usual.

There is further detailed information available about the coronavirus vaccine on the Versus Arthritis website if you should wish to read more information.  

New lockdown rules and shielding guidance

The government issued further national lockdown rules on 05 January 2021 with specific guidance on shielding for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable link

For those patients who are clinically vulnerable but may need to return to work, we ask you to ensure your workplace is Covid-secure, so it remains a safe place for you to work.  You may wish to speak to your manager if you have concerns regarding your safety at work.

Please use the flow chart below to assess whether you are in the "clinically extremely vulnerable" or "clinically vulnerable" categories. 

LTHT Rheumatology COVID immunosuppressant 2020 10 22


General guidance to reduce your risk of COVID-19 infection for rheumatology patients 
Final updated July COVID-19 Rheumatology guidance : This document helps explain what you can do to reduce your risk, and what to do with your medication if you develop symptoms of an infection. It also contains further advice what to do if you are a health care worker.
Social distancing guidance for rheumatology patient
Introduction to guidance COVID-19 and social distancing for LTHT Rheum patients:   This document, produced in March 2020, introduces the concept of shielding, strict and standard social distancing to complement the above chart.
Shielding guidance

NHS Government Shielding Advice for High Risk Patients: This document is the NHS advice for high risk patients having to shield. This is useful should shielding be recommended again in the future.

You will find up to date shielding guidance in this government link.

Please complete your details in the following link if you have identified yourself as high risk:  High risk self assessment submission
Information for rheumatology patients on steroid treatment

Information for Rheumatology patients on long term tablets (Prednisolone)