Grey-haired woman in a mask

Because COVID is a new disease, we are constantly learning more about overall COVID-19 risk. At this time, we do know that being an older adult, having certain underlying conditions and several other factors can put you at higher risk for severe illness from the COVID-19.

Severe illness can lead to hospitalization or death. Patients with severe illness may need a ventilator or to be in intensive care. 

Risk of Getting COVID

The best way to reduce your risk for getting the disease and reduce your risk for severe illness is to get the COVID vaccine and then a booster shot as soon as you are eligible.  Also, follow precautions to protect against the virus, such as wearing a well- fitting mask.

Risk for Severe COVID

While anyone— especially people who are unvaccinated—can become severely ill from COVID, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that those at high risk for severe illness include people who:  

Based on currently available information, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include people who:

Underlying Conditions

These underlying medical conditions  heighten your risk, no matter your age. If you have any of these conditions, it is especially important to get vaccinated and boosted.

For details about any of these conditions, see the Centers for Disease Control’s website. Check with your doctor as to whether any conditions you have may heighten your risk for severe COVID.

  • Chronic lung disease, including COPD, asthma (moderate to severe) and cystic fibrosis
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (The risk of severe COVID increases sharply with elevated BMI.)
  • Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke
  • Blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Conditions that cause you to be immunocompromised, including:
    • Cancer treatment
    • Bone marrow or organ transplant
    • Immune deficiencies
    • HIV or AIDS
    • Prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
  • Tuberculosis
  • Dementia
  • High blood pressure
  • Down Syndrome
  • Mental health disorders, including depression and schizophrenia spectrum disorders
  • Substance use disorders

Updated 1/10/2022

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