Information for high-risk individuals

This article was last reviewed on October 12, 2021.


Those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) should be especially careful about protecting themselves by avoiding close contact with those outside their household, washing hands often and avoiding unnecessary travel. For more information about who is at risk, see the CDC’s latest guidance here.

High-risk individuals

Based on what we know about COVID-19 right now, the following groups should be especially careful and socially distance from others:

People aged 65 or older

People in nursing homes or long-term care facilities

People with high-risk conditions such as

  • cancer
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic lung disease
  • liver disease
  • heart conditions
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • dementia or other neurological conditions
  • HIV
  • Down syndrome
  • blood disorder like sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • compromised immune system
  • pregnancy
  • overweight or obesity
  • smoking
  • substance use disorders

The conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play, over time, lead to different levels of health risks. Some people in certain racial or ethnic groups may be exposed to medical conditions that put them at greater risk for COVID disease. This increased risk for becoming sick from COVID-19 may result in a greater need for hospital or ICU care.

According to data and information from the CDC, exposure, illness, hospitalization, and death resulting from COVID-19 are higher among people in the following groups:

  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Black or African American
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander

Children and teens

Children and teens can also be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and some can develop a serious illness. Children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk. There is limited evidence currently regarding which underlying medical conditions are associated with an increased risk. This evidence suggests that children that have genetic, neurologic, metabolic or congenital heart conditions can be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Children with diabetes, asthma, chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease, immunosuppression or obesity can also be at increased risk for severe illness.1

It is important that all adults in a household are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is one important way to protect the health of children.

References:

  1. CDC COVID-19 People with certain medical conditions

Where to get information for specific circumstances

Asthma

Having moderate-to-severe asthma might increase a patient's risk for severe illness from COVID-19. So we would recommend that our patients keep their asthma under control by following their Asthma Action Plan. Asthmatic patients should continue current medicines, and follow COVID-19 prevention recommendations.

Read everything you need to know about how to reduce your risk and be prepared during the COVID-19 outbreak if you have asthma.

Cancer

If you are currently living with cancer or are worried for a friend or family member who has cancer, you can access specific information about coronavirus and cancer here, including advice on protecting yourself, recommended treatment, and other tips.

Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you should review your diabetes education, following your diet and exercise plan along with your prescribed medication to improve your disease control.

Discover useful information on COVID-19 if you are living with diabetes, including why you may be more likely to experience serious complications if you do get sick with COVID-19.


Heart Disease

If you are living with heart disease, you can access detailed information on who may be at higher risk and what you need to know.

Kidney disease

Read the latest information and advice for patients living with kidney disease, including how to protect yourself and prepare for the weeks ahead.

Mental Health

Whether you are living with a pre-existing mental health condition or want advice on how to manage your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak, here are helpful tips and advice for managing stress.

Pregnancy

If you are currently pregnant or living with someone who is pregnant, you can find detailed information about pregnancy and COVID-19, including what we know about the risks and how to protect pregnant women, at the link below.

Breastfeeding

Read the latest information and advice on breastfeeding and caring for a newborn baby if you have COVID-19.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.