Are You at High Risk for Serious Disease from Covid-19?

Who is most likely to become seriously ill from Covid-19?

Serious illness from Covid-19 means you are more likely to be hospitalized, need intensive care, or need a ventilator to breathe and increase your risk of death.

The risk of dying increases as you get older

  • Ages 50 to 64 25 times
  • Ages 65 to 74 60x
  • From the age of 18-29.
  • Adults over the age of 50

Your risk increases with age, and people over 65 are more likely to get sick from Covid-19. There are several reasons for this:

  • Older adults tend to have more underlying conditions that are risk factors for serious Covid-19 disease.

  • The immune system weakens as we get older, making it more difficult to fight infections.

  • Our lungs don’t work as well as they do when we’re younger, which can make respiratory diseases like Covid-19 more dangerous.

  • Covid-19 is an inflammatory disease, and the inflammation in the elderly can be severe and can damage internal organs.

8 out of 10 Covid-19 deaths occur in people over 65

People with underlying health conditions

The more medical conditions one has, the higher the risk of serious illness. Some medical conditions that increase your risk are:

  • cancer

  • Chronic kidney failure

  • Chronic liver disease

  • Chronic lung diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • dementia or other neurological conditions

  • diabetes (type 1 or type 2)

  • Heart disease, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, and possibly high blood pressure

  • HIV infection

  • Weak immunity or a weakened immune system

  • Mental health conditions, including depression

  • Overweight and obesity

  • Limited physical activity

  • Pregnancy and people within 6 weeks of delivery

  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia

  • Smoking (current or former)

  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplantation

  • Cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke

  • Substance use disorders

  • Tuberculosis

people with disabilities

Disabilities, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, birth defects, Down syndrome, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and spinal cord injuries, make people more likely to develop serious illnesses because they are more likely to:

  • You have chronic health conditions

  • Live in group settings

  • Barriers to accessing health care

People in certain racial or ethnic groups

Health and social inequalities contribute to an increased risk of severe Covid-19 disease in marginalized racial and ethnic groups. These factors include:

  • The deterioration of the socio-economic situation and worse living conditions

  • Limited access to vaccines and treatment

  • Increased exposure to Covid-19 among frontline and essential workers, who are often members of marginalized groups

  • The long-term effects of stress caused by discrimination

How can you reduce your risk of contracting Covid-19?

  • Stay up to date on your Covid-19 vaccinations

  • Mask while in public

  • Avoid contact with people infected with Covid-19

Covid-19 cases and deaths remain high.

If you have been exposed to Covid-19:

  • wear a mask

  • Watch for symptoms

  • Isolate and get tested immediately if you have symptoms

  • Test 5 days after exposure even if you have no symptoms

Stay in touch with your healthcare practitioner

If you have symptoms and are 50 or older or are at risk of severe disease, get tested. If you have Covid-19, you may be eligible for treatment.

If you have a health condition that puts you at high risk and you develop symptoms of Covid-19 – or if your symptoms get worse even if you are not at high risk – contact your healthcare practitioner so they can monitor you.

This resource was created with support from Pfizer.


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