Groups at higher risk from COVID-19

Some people can get very sick from COVID-19. Learn about the different groups and the steps you can take to protect yourself.

High-risk groups

You are at a high risk of becoming very sick from COVID-19 and needing hospital treatment, if you:

  • are 70 years of age or older
  • are 50 years of age or older with 2 risk factors including, neurological disease, chronic lung disease (moderate or severe asthma requiring inhaled steroids), heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease)
  • are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 30 years of age or older, with one of the risk factors above
  • are 18 years of age or older and moderately to severely immunocompromised
  • live in a rural or remote area with limited access to healthcare
  • live in a residential aged care facility
  • have complex and significant disability
  • are pregnant
  • are on immunosuppressants
  • have certain health conditions.

Protecting yourself if you're in a high-risk group

COVID-19 vaccinations can reduce your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.

If you are in one of the groups above, you should speak to your GP or doctor now about what to do if you become sick. If you are eligible, your GP can plan COVID-19 oral treatments to reduce your chance of becoming very sick.

You need to start certain COVID-19 oral treatments as soon as you can, after testing positive. It is important to:

  • test as soon as you feel symptoms

  • talk to your GP if you test positive.

Learn about other steps you can take to protect yourself and others.

Advice for specific groups

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

You have a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, and:

  • live in a remote area far from medical help

  • have an underlying medical condition.

Stay up to date on COVID-19 and get the latest advice to keep you and your community safe:

People in aged care

The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases with age, particularly for people over 70 years old.

Residents and visitors should keep up to date with:

People with disability

You have a greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19, if you are a person with disability and have:

  • an existing chronic condition 

  • a weakened immune system

  • difficulty maintaining physical distancing because of impracticality

  • difficulty maintaining hygiene measures, such as wearing a face mask.

Resources and support

For families of a person with intellectual or developmental disability

People who are immunocompromised

Your immune system fights germs and viruses that cause disease. But many conditions and treatments weaken your immune system.

If your immune system is compromised, you are more likely to become severely ill with COVID-19.

You are considered moderately to severely immunocompromised if you have:

  • been living with disability with multiple conditions including frailty
  • blood cancer or some red blood cell disorders (thalassemia, sickle cell disease)
  • been a transplant recipient
  • a primary or acquired (HIV) immunodeficiency
  • had chemotherapy or whole-body radiotherapy in the last 3 months
  • had high dose corticosteroids or pulse corticosteroid therapy in the last 3 months
  • had immunosuppressive treatments in the last 3 months
  • had rituximab in the last 12 months
  • cerebral palsy or Down Syndrome
  • congenital heart disease
  • certain medical conditions, listed below.

Speak to your GP to plan COVID-19 oral treatments in case you get sick.

Illnesses and conditions that increase your risk of severe illness

You are at greater risk of severe illness if you have:

  • non-haematological cancer (diagnosed in the past 5 years)
  • childhood cancer
  • chronic inflammatory condition requiring medical treatment
  • chronic kidney failure
  • chronic lung disease
  • heart disease (coronary heart disease or failure)
  • diabetes
  • chronic liver disease
  • neurological conditions such as stroke or dementia
  • severe mental health conditions
  • severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • poorly controlled blood pressure.

Speak to your GP to plan COVID-19 oral treatments in case you get sick.

Learn more about the medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness.

Date last updated:

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