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Who's at higher risk from coronavirus

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

There are 2 levels of higher risk:

  • high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • moderate risk (clinically vulnerable)

Important

The lists below may not include everyone who's at higher risk from coronavirus and may change as we learn more about the virus.

People at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable)

People at high risk from coronavirus include people who:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy
  • are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer
  • are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
  • have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine
  • have been told by a doctor they have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)
  • have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)
  • are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppressant medicine)
  • have a serious heart condition and are pregnant
Information:

If you're at high risk from coronavirus, you should have received a letter from the NHS.

Speak to your GP or hospital care team if you have not been contacted and think you should have been.

What to do if you're at high risk

If you're at high risk from coronavirus, you were advised to take extra steps to protect yourself until 1 August 2020. This was called shielding.

In England, you're no longer advised to shield. But there are still things you can do to protect yourself and others. You can also still get some support.

See what to do if you're at high risk from coronavirus.

People at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable)

People at moderate risk from coronavirus include people who:

  • are 70 or older
  • have a lung condition that's not severe (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis)
  • have heart disease (such as heart failure)
  • have diabetes
  • have chronic kidney disease
  • have liver disease (such as hepatitis)
  • have a condition affecting the brain or nerves (such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy)
  • have a condition that means they have a high risk of getting infections
  • are taking medicine that can affect the immune system (such as low doses of steroids)
  • are very obese (a BMI of 40 or above)
  • are pregnant – see advice about pregnancy and coronavirus

What to do if you're at moderate risk

If you're at moderate risk from coronavirus, you can go out to work (if you cannot work from home) and for things like getting food or exercising. But you should try to stay at home as much as possible.

It's very important you follow the general advice on social distancing. This includes trying to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with or anyone not in your support bubble.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from 1 other household.

Find out more about meeting people from outside your household on GOV.UK.

Unlike people at high risk, you will not get a letter from the NHS.

Information:

Get help and support

If you're at a higher risk from coronavirus, you can get help from an NHS volunteer with things like getting food, medicines and other things you need.

Call 0808 196 3646 (open 8am to 8pm) to get help from NHS Volunteer Responders.

Other things that can affect your risk

A report by Public Health England found that other things might also mean you are more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus.

These include:

  • your age – your risk increases as you get older
  • being a man
  • where in the country you live – the risk is higher in poorer areas
  • being from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background
  • being born outside of the UK or Ireland
  • living in a care home
  • having certain jobs, such as nurse, taxi driver and security guard

See the full report on disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 on GOV.UK.

Page last reviewed: 7 August 2020
Next review due: 14 August 2020