Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with chronic health conditions

People with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems are at greater risk of more serious illness if they are infected with coronavirus (COVID-19). We must all take to care to protect those most vulnerable.

Conditions that increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19

Anyone could develop serious or severe illness from COVID-19, but those with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems are at greater risk.

Having 2 or more conditions might increase your risk, regardless of your age. If your condition is severe or poorly controlled, this might also increase your risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Speak to your doctor about your risk.

Chronic conditions that put you at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19

You are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you:

  • have had an organ transplant and are on immune suppressive therapy
  • have had a bone marrow transplant in the past 2 years
  • are on immune suppressive therapy for graft versus host disease
  • have had blood cancer, in the past 5 years, including leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome
  • are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy

You are at moderate risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you have:

  • chronic kidney (renal) failure
  • heart disease (coronary heart disease or failure)
  • chronic lung disease, excluding mild or moderate asthma
  • had cancer in the past 12 months
  • diabetes
  • severe obesity with a body mass index of 40 kg/m2 or more
  • chronic liver disease
  • some neurological conditions such as stroke or dementia
  • some chronic inflammatory conditions and treatments
  • other primary or acquired immunodeficiency
  • poorly controlled hypertension (may increase risk)

Your level of risk depends on other factors, including your age, gender and whether you smoke.

See our advice for people at risk.

Protecting yourself

You should consider how you can protect yourself and others from coronavirus. No matter what your level of risk you should:

Make sure you continue to go to any usual or scheduled appointments with your doctor. See how to access health services and medications during COVID-19 restrictions.

You may also want to develop an individual COVID-19 action plan. It can help you weigh up your risk against what is important to you. In your plan, you can list the actions you will take if there are: 

  • no COVID-19 cases in your community
  • low numbers of COVID-19 cases in your community
  • increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in your community.

For information on how you can stay safe and healthy read the Living well in the COVID-19 pandemic fact sheet.

Services and support

Telehealth services

You can access bulk-billed telehealth services from your doctor, nurse or mental health professional via phone or videoconference. Learn more about telehealth services.

Ordering prescription medications from home

You can get medicines from home during the COVID-19 restrictions.

You might also be eligible to have prescription medications delivered from your regular pharmacy through the Home Medicines Service.

Learn more about Home Medicines Services or contact your local pharmacist.

Urgent referrals to grocery suppliers

We are working with grocery suppliers to ensure vulnerable people have priority access to online and telephone shopping.

Stay connected and care for your mental health

Being isolated can be stressful and hard to manage. Learn more about how to manage isolation.

Looking after your mental health is an important part of staying healthy. The Government’s Head to Health website is the best place to start if you need some help coping with anxiety and worry about coronavirus.

You can also visit the new Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service being provided by Beyond Blue.

More information

If you have questions, you can call the National Coronavirus Helpline.

National coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline

If you need information about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines or help with the COVIDSafe app, call the telephone number listed below. If you need assistance with booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, please note the call centre is unable to book appointments on your behalf.

View contact

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National)

TIS National is for people who do not speak English and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with their non-English speaking clients.

View contact

Contact your local state and territory health departments for information about your local health system arrangements. 

If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.

Last updated: 
16 October 2020

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