Last updated: 18 June 2020 at 9.40am
Having a weak immune system may put you at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Many things can cause a weak immune system (immunosuppressed).
- cancer treatment
- treatment for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel diseases
- HIV - if you're not on effective treatment
- having an organ transplant or a bone-marrow transplant
Immunosuppressive treatments and steroids
There is no evidence to date that you are more at risk of a serious infection from COVID-19 if you are on:
- immunosuppressive treatments
But other infections can cause severe illness for people on immunosuppressive treatment. It could be the same for COVID-19. We just don't know yet.
Keep taking your steroids unless your doctor tells you not to. Stopping steroids suddenly can make you very unwell.
Never start taking steroids unless your doctor tells you to. This includes medicines such as prednisolone and dexamethasone.
Other steroids, such as inhalers, do not usually cause immunosuppression. Continue to take these medicines as you normally would.
Keep taking your medicine or following any treatment plan unless your doctor tells you not to. If you stop your medicine you may be more likely to have a flare up of your condition.
Attend any planned treatment or blood tests unless you are told not to. But phone your hospital in advance as some hospital services are disrupted.
Immunosuppressive medicines include:
- biologic agents
- certain steroids such as prednisolone - brand name: Deltacortril
If you were previously on immunosuppressants, you may still be immunosuppressed. This can last for months after stopping treatment.
If you get COVID-19
If you get COVID-19, ask your GP or consultant if they recommend any changes to your treatment. Do this before taking your next dose of treatments.
If you are an essential worker
If you are an essential worker on an immunosuppressant treatment, phone your GP. They will advise you on safe working.
Looking after your mental health
It is difficult living with any medical condition during the current uncertainty.