What to know if you have an ongoing health condition

Last updated: Apr 24, 2021
The vaccines are highly recommended for people with chronic illnesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a dangerous threat to people with certain medical conditions. If you get the disease, you’re at a much higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying. Herd immunity is on the rise, thanks to the vaccine rollout throughout California. With time, this will bring an end to the pandemic. Still, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and COVID-related deaths are far too high

People of all ages with certain medical conditions have an increased risk of severe illness and hospitalization if they contract COVID-19. That’s why it’s highly recommended they get vaccinated as soon as they can. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and other chronic lung diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • Obesity
  • Asthma and/or hypertension

Managing an ongoing medical condition is hard enough without the added stress of the threat of COVID-19. The vaccine(s) are one of our best tools for protecting you and others from getting the disease. If you are hesitant to get your COVID-19 vaccine, it’s important to understand the safety and effectiveness of all three vaccines and how getting vaccinated can keep you healthy. We want to help, so we’ve answered some of the questions you may have about the different vaccines and the benefits of getting the shot(s).

What to know about the COVID-19 vaccines if you have a medical condition

  • Getting vaccinated will help everyone, including people with medical conditions. Everyone has suffered during this pandemic and the vaccines are a big step towards recovery. The vaccines get us one step closer to enjoying daily life, time with friends and family, and everything else we’ve been missing. 
  • In clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine, the most frequent underlying medical conditions people had were obesity (35.1%), diabetes (8.4%), and pulmonary disease (7.8%).
  • Clinical trials for the Moderna vaccine showed it to be highly effective among people of diverse age, sex, race, and ethnic categories, as well as people with underlying medical conditions.
    • Among those who participated, 22.3% had at least one of the following high-risk conditions: lung disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, or HIV infection.
    • Four percent (4%) had two or more high-risk conditions.
  • The FDA experts found clear evidence in clinical trial results that the Janssen Vaccine (better known as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) is effective in preventing COVID-19. They found it is safe for people with health conditions, like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, including those over 60 years of age.

All three vaccines are safe and effective

  • The vaccine does not give you COVID-19. It only instructs your body on how to protect itself from the virus should you get it.
  • All of the vaccines are scientifically proven to be safe and effective. People with certain medical conditions were included in all of the trials.
  • Millions of Americans have been vaccinated. This includes many people with various medical conditions.
  • No one has died from any of the vaccines.
  • Severe allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare. They only occur in two to five (2 to 5) people per million vaccinated. After you get the shot, you’ll be asked to stay for 15 to 30 minutes so you can be monitored for a rare allergic reaction. If you have history of allergic reactions, you can let a staff member know. In that case, you’ll be asked to stay for the full 30 minutes.
  • There are no reports of any long-term effects from the vaccines. However, studies show that the long-term effects of COVID-19 can last for weeks or months. This includes everything from fatigue and difficulty concentrating to problems with the heart and lungs. Just one more reason to protect yourself against it.
  • If you have concerns or any of the underlying conditions listed by the CDC, please talk to your doctor before getting vaccinated. These include:
    • HIV and/or a weakened immune system,
    • Autoimmune conditions (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis),
    • Previously had Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), and
    • Previously had Bell's palsy.

Don’t forget, it’s still important that you continue to manage your health and follow your treatment plan. If you have any concerns or issues with that, please talk to your doctor.

What to know as you think about getting the vaccine

  • The vaccine is free. You do not need health insurance to get it.
  • Everyone can get the vaccine. Your immigration status does not matter.
  • Schedule an appointment to receive your vaccine at My Turn. All Californians 16 and over are eligible as of April 15.
  • Don’t have internet access or email? Call (833) 422-4255 to schedule an appointment.

After you’ve been fully vaccinated, you’ll likely feel a sense of relief that life can start to get back to normal. Talk to your doctor for guidance about any precautions you may still need to take. And keep in mind that even after you are vaccinated, it’s important to continue to protect yourself and others. That means you should still wear a mask and practice social distancing when in public. That will help keep everyone safe as we wait for more Californians to get vaccinated.

Ready to get vaccinated?

Sign up on My Turn

Additional COVID-19 resources for people with medical conditions

Have more questions?

View COVID-19 resources

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