COVID-19 affects people of all ages and health statuses. But certain people have a higher chance of getting severe illness from COVID-19.
And though the first COVID-19 vaccines are out, it will be months before everyone gets their two doses, even people in high-risk groups. That's why we all must continue to do our part to stop the spread. Taking precautions protects you — and those around you who may be at higher risk.
Who's in a high-risk group?
Millions of Americans are at a high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. Some are at high risk because of factors such as age, pregnancy, job or lifestyle (like smoking).
And many people are at high risk for severe COVID-19 because of chronic health conditions.
As research continues, this list of health conditions may grow and change. Refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the most up-to-date list.
Health conditions that raise the risk of COVID-19 severity
People who have these health conditions have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19:
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
- Obesity, having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes
If you have any health condition — even if it's not on this list — talk to your healthcare provider. You can take action to protect yourself from getting the coronavirus.
What should I do if I'm in a high-risk group?
If you have a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, work with your healthcare provider to manage any chronic health conditions. And take practical steps to avoid getting sick.
Partner with your healthcare provider
Your healthcare provider plays an important role in managing chronic health conditions. Your provider is also your partner in helping you stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. If you are in a high-risk group:
- Check on immunizations: Contact your healthcare provider to ensure your immunizations are up to date. If they're not, schedule an appointment to get them done.
- Take your meds: Have at least a 30-day supply of your prescription or nonprescription medications. Talk to your provider or pharmacist if you need medication refills.
- Continue treatment: Stick with any treatment your doctor prescribed. Take your medicines on schedule. Don't skip medical treatments or change your treatment plan. If you have questions about medications or your treatment, call your healthcare provider.
- Don't ignore signs of illness: If you have any new symptoms or changes in your health, contact your provider.
- Know that healthcare facilities are safe: Don't delay visiting your provider or going to the emergency room if you need medical care. Healthcare facilities are safe and have plans in place to protect you from COVID-19 exposure.
How can I help someone who's at high risk of COVID-19?
If you have a friend or family member who's in a high-risk group, you can help protect them. If they don't live with you, take precautions when you see them:
- Mask up: Always wear a mask when you leave home, or you're around people who don't live with you. Make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth.
- Stay socially distanced: Keep a 6-foot distance. Limit your in-person interactions as much as possible.
- Practice hand hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay away if you're sick: Avoid in-person contact with high-risk people if you have a fever, cough or other signs of illness.
- Keep in touch: Check in with high-risk friends and family members regularly through phone or messaging.
- Run their errands: Pick up their groceries, medications or healthcare supplies. Drop them off at their door instead of going inside.
Everyone can help stop the spread
Whether you're high-risk or low-risk, everyone benefits when you take steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Practice social distancing, good hand hygiene and mask-wearing to protect yourself and everyone around you. Follow the guidelines of your local municipality.
If you have questions about your COVID-19 risk or have health concerns, contact your healthcare provider. And if you are in a high-risk group and have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing, seek medical care right away.