People Who Are Immunocompromised
Know how to protect yourself and what to do if you get sick
Some people who are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system) are more likely to get sick with COVID-19 or be sick for a longer period. People can be immunocompromised either because of a medical condition or because they receive immunosuppressive medications or treatments.
Examples of medical conditions or treatments that may result in moderate to severe immunocompromise include but are not limited to:
- Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
- Hematologic malignancies associated with poor responses to COVID-19 vaccines regardless of current treatment status (e.g., chronic lymphocytic leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, acute leukemia)
- Receipt of solid-organ transplant or an islet transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
- Receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppressive therapy)
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., common variable immunodeficiency disease, severe combined immunodeficiency, DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection (people with HIV and CD4 cell counts less than 200/mm3, history of an AIDS-defining illness without immune reconstitution, or clinical manifestations of symptomatic HIV)
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., 20 or more mg of prednisone or equivalent per day when administered for 2 or more weeks), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have another medical condition or are on medication that may not be reflected above.
If you or someone you live or spend time with is immunocompromised, it is important to have a COVID-19 plan to protect yourself and others from infection. This allows you to know what to do and act quickly if you’re exposed, develop symptoms, or test positive, or when COVID-19 levels are increasing in your community. Information on this page can help you build a COVID-19 plan for preventing, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19.
Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying. As with vaccines for other diseases, you are protected best when you stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines. The people you live or spend time with can help protect you and themselves by staying up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines too.
Since your immune response to COVID-19 vaccination may not be as strong as in people who are not immunocompromised, you may have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
To find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you: Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233.
Take extra precautions
Even if you stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, taking multiple prevention steps can provide additional layers of protection from COVID-19.
- Wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask or respirator. Properly fitting respirators provide the highest level of protection.
- Avoid poorly ventilated or crowded indoor settings.
- When indoors with others, try to improve ventilation as much as possible.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
It’s important to be prepared and know what to do if you get sick with COVID-19. Don’t delay seeking medical care. Be prepared by understanding the following steps:
What you can do now
- Know the symptoms of COVID-19.
- Learn how to check COVID-19 hospital admission levels. Knowing your hospitalization level will help you decide when to add layers of protection, like wearing a mask.
- Learn about COVID-19 testing, including the pros and cons of different test types, when you should test, and where you can get tested or get at-home tests.
- Know how to reach a healthcare provider right away, including after hours or weekends. Ask them about telehealth appointment options.
- Have an updated list of all your current medications in case you need to see a different provider.
What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19
- Determine if you should stay home.
- Monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms
- Get tested at least 5 full days after your exposure to COVID-19, even if you don’t develop symptoms.
- Wear a high-quality mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.
What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms
What to do if you have COVID-19
Effective treatments are now widely available and free, and you may be eligible.
- Contact your healthcare provider, health department, or Community Health Center to learn about treatment options. Don’t delay! Treatment must be started 5–7 days after you first develop symptoms.
- If you don’t have timely access to a healthcare provider, check to see whether a Test to Treat location is in your community. You can get tested, receive a prescription from a healthcare provider (either onsite or by telehealth), and have it filled all at one location.
- Isolate until it’s safe to be around others. CDC recommends that you isolate for at least 10 and up to 20 days. Check with your healthcare provider to learn when you can be around others.
- Monitor your symptoms. Call your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. If you notice emergency warning signs, call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility.
If you have COVID-19, oral antiviral treatments are available for people who are more likely to get very sick. Learn more about COVID-19 treatment.
Don’t delay: Treatment must be started within 5-7 days of first developing symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider about what treatment options are best for you.
Antiviral treatments may help your body fight COVID-19 by stopping the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) from multiplying in your body or by lowering the amount of the virus within your body. You can get a prescription from your healthcare provider or a Test to Treat location. Oral antivirals can be taken at home and must be given within 5-7 days after the first symptoms of COVID-19 appear.
If you continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms after receiving antiviral treatment, your healthcare provider may suggest additional or longer courses of treatment, including convalescent plasma.
Make a COVID-19 plan now so you’re prepared. Consider the ways you will protect yourself and how to be prepared if you get sick with COVID-19. Include how you will adjust your plan if the COVID-19 situation changes in your community.
Your plan should include:
- What you’re doing to protect yourself and prepare (in case you get COVID)
- What you’ll do if you’re exposed or develop symptoms
- What you’ll do if you have COVID-19
Talk with your family, friends, and healthcare provider about your plan
Share your COVID-19 plan with your family, friends, and healthcare providers so they can support your prevention and preparation steps. Consider how others may help you if you get sick and identify the supplies you may need. Be sure to stick to your treatment plans, your routine healthcare appointments, and have all your prescriptions filled. Plan for options for work, childcare, and other responsibilities that may cause stress if you were to become sick.
COVID-19 remains a major health concern and this can be stressful to manage. Understanding what you can do to protect yourself and what to do if you get sick can help minimize that stress. Take as many steps as you can to prevent COVID-19 and get treated quickly if you have COVID-19.
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