Older people and those who need special precautions
COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:
- People aged 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised
- Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
- People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥40)
- People with diabetes
- People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- People with liver disease
Most people with disabilities are not inherently at higher risk for becoming infected with or having severe illness from COVID-19. Some people with physical limitations or other disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection because of their underlying medical condition.
People with certain disabilities might experience higher rates of chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious illness and poorer outcomes from COVID-19.
- Adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities.
You should talk with your healthcare provider if you have a question about your health or how your health condition is being managed.
If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:
- Stock up on supplies
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick
- Limit close contact and wash your hands often
- Avoid crowds, cruise travel, and non-essential travel
If there is an outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible. Watch for symptoms and emergency signs. If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor. More information on how to prepare, what to do if you get sick, and how communities and caregivers can support those at higher risk is available on People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19.
People of any age who have certain underlying medical conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In addition to following the recommendations to prevent getting sick, families can take steps recommended for children with underlying conditions.
Consider identifying potential alternative caregivers, in case you or other regular caregivers become sick and are unable to care for your child. If possible, these alternative caregivers should not be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 themselves. For more information, see Sick Parents and Caregivers. Make sure these caregivers take extra precautions if your child has a disability.
If your child receives any support care services in the home, such as services from personal care attendants, direct support professionals, or therapists, make plans for what you will do if your child’s direct care providers or anyone in your family gets sick. You can review CDC’s recommendations for Direct Service Providers.
Smoking cigarettes can leave you more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19. For example, smoking is known to cause lung disease and people with underlying lung problems may have increased risk for serious complications from COVID-19, a disease that primarily attacks the lungs.
Smoking cigarettes can also cause inflammation and cell damage throughout the body, and can weaken your immune system, making it less able to fight off disease.
There’s never been a better time to quit smoking. If you need resources to help you quit smoking, the FDA’s Every Try Counts campaign has supportive tips and tools to help you get closer to quitting for good.
E-cigarette use can expose your lungs to toxic chemicals, but whether those exposures increase the risk of COVID-19 or the severity of COVID-19 outcomes is not known. It is known that cigarette smoking increases the risk of respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Since many e-cigarette users are current or former smokers, you may be susceptible to a more severe course of COVID-19 if you are infected.