People at higher risk from COVID-19

COVID-19 (coronavirus) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher.

There are 2 levels of higher risk:

What each group should do

Very high risk and high risk people should:

Read about minding your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Read about exercises you can do at home

Very high risk groups (extremely vulnerable)

The list of people in very high risk groups include people who:

  • are over 70 years of age - even if you're fit and well
  • have Down Syndrome
  • have cancer and are being treated with chemotherapy or similar drugs other than hormone therapy
  • have lung or head and neck cancer and are having radical surgery or radiotherapy
  • are having radical radiotherapy for lung cancer or head and neck cancer
  • are having certain complex cancer surgery, for example, surgery for lung cancer, head and neck cancer or oesophageal cancer
  • have advanced cancer or cancer that has spread to another part of the body
  • are on dialysis or have end-stage kidney disease and an eGFR less than 15
  • have a condition affecting the brains or nerves that has significantly affected your ability to breathe, meaning you require non-invasive ventilation (such as motor neurone disease or spinal muscular atrophy)
  • have unstable or severe cystic fibrosis, including people waiting for a transplant
  • have severe respiratory conditions including Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, severe asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease and severe COPD
  • have uncontrolled diabetes
  • have had an organ transplant or are waiting for a transplant
  • have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the last 12 months, or are waiting for a transplant
  • have a rare condition that means you have a very high risk of getting infections (such as APECED or errors in the interferon pathway)
  • sickle cell disease
  • have been treated with drugs such as Rituximab, Cyclophosphamide, Alemtuzumab, Cladribine or Ocrelizumab in the last 6 months
  • have certain inherited metabolic disorders (such as Maple Syrup Urine Disease)
  • have obesity with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40

High risk groups

The list of people in high risk groups includes people who:

  • are over 60 years of age
  • have a learning disability other than Down Syndrome
  • are being treated for cancer but are not very high risk
  • have been treated in the past 5 years for a cancer of the blood or bone marrow (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
  • have been treated in the past 1 year for a cancer that did not start in the blood or bone marrow
  • have chronic heart disease (such as heart failure)
  • have chronic kidney disease with an eGFR below 30ml a minute
  • have chronic liver disease (such as cirrhosis or fibrosis)
  • have a condition affecting the brain or nerves (such as Parkinson's disease or cerebral palsy) that affects their breathing or ability to protect or clear their airway
  • have clinically stable cystic fibrosis
  • have a serious lung condition but are not at very high risk, for example, moderate COPD, severe asthma, emphysema or bronchitis
  • have diabetes
  • are taking medicine that makes you much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids)
  • have a condition that means you have a high risk of getting infections (such as HIV, lupus or scleroderma)
  • have an inherited metabolic disorder but are not very high risk
  • have obesity with a body mass index (BMI) between 35 and 40
  • have a severe mental illness (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression)

Last updated: 18 January 2022 at 4.35pm

Talk to a breastfeeding expert