While anyone can catch SARS-CoV-2, certain groups are at greater risk of developing severe illness:

  • People ages 65 or older
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • People with preexisting health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.

Black and Latino communities have both higher infection rates and greater odds of severe illness and death.

While older people and those with other health conditions are more likely to develop severe disease, healthy young people—including children—can also become seriously ill. A small proportion of children develop a condition known as severe multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC-C).

Immunocompromised people, including those receiving certain types of cancer treatment, those with advanced or untreated HIV and organ transplant recipients are at greater risk for severe illness and should take extra precautions.

COVID vaccines are safe and recommended for all these groups. While people with moderate to severe immune suppression may not respond as well, the vaccines still offer some protection.

Last Reviewed: September 15, 2023