Vice Chair of the Assembly's Health Committee Pam Cameron has asked the Department of Health to issue definitive, simple and clear guidance on the issue of shielding.
At Wednesday's meeting of the Health Committee the South Antrim MLA highlighted confusion which already existed around shielding. In response the Chief Scientific Advisor had said the intention was that everyone who had been shielding previously would be advised to shield again, regardless of age. This was later clarified by the Department of Health but many clinically vulnerable people remain confused.
Mrs Cameron said, "I raised this issue at the Health Committee because many people across Northern Ireland were already confused. Everyone accepts both the complexity and importance of these decisions. People have relayed to me that they remain confused and my fear is that this may only damage the overall health messaging which is now more vital than ever.
There is a further need for definitive, simple and clear guidance to clinically vulnerable people. The general advice must not only be spelt out clearly, but specific guidance should be given in relation to those vulnerable people who are in jobs where they cannot work from home.
People also need to know exactly when the updated information will be sent directly to individuals and a timeframe as to when vaccinations for all those who are extremely clinically vulnerable will be completed.
I will do whatever possible to support the Minster and work with him to get that clear message out to people. Collaboration rather than criticism will be of most assistance to those people who simply want to know what the position is so they can follow the guidance. Unfortunately, in recent days too many serious issues have boiled down to cheap political point scoring.
A simple clear shielding message is vital. We can all play a part in helping those most vulnerable in our community."