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COVID-19 Vaccines and underlying medical conditions

April 12, 2021

Most people with underlying medical conditions can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

An underlying medical or health condition is an on-going (chronic) or long-term medical problem that often needs medication or other medical help. Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma are examples of some underlying conditions. These and other conditions can weaken your immune system (disease-fighting system) and/or make you more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19.

There is limited safety data for people whose immune functions are lowered by HIV, certain medicines, or an autoimmune disease. However, people with these conditions may still get a vaccine if they have no other reason not to. 

If you have an underlying medical condition: 

  • It is generally recommended that you get the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider for vaccination advice. 

  • Let the person giving you the vaccination know about all your allergies and health conditions. 

Can I get the vaccine if I am on medication?

Continue taking medications for your underlying medical conditions around the time of your COVID-19 vaccination. Talk to your doctor about your specific medication and what is known about the effectiveness of the vaccine when taking certain medications that suppress your immune system. 

Can I get the vaccine if I’m sick?

A mild illness will not affect the safety or effectiveness of a vaccine. However, you should wait until you are recovered from your illness before getting your vaccine to keep from spreading the illness. 

Can I get the vaccine if I have COVID or already had COVID?

If you currently have COVID-19, wait until you have recovered from your illness and can be around others again before you get vaccinated. This also applies to people who get COVID-19 between their first and second doses.

If you have already had COVID and have recovered, you should still get the vaccine. Experts do not yet know how long you are protected once you are sick with COVID-19. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received.

Can I get the vaccine if I have cancer or am going through chemotherapy? 

Talk with your doctor or clinic. Depending on your type of cancer and the treatment you are getting, your doctor may recommend getting vaccinated or may recommend delaying vaccination for a while.

I am HIV+. Is it safe for me to take the COVID-19 vaccine? 

People with stable HIV were included in the studies for the COVID vaccines, though safety data about this group by itself are not available yet. 

If you have HIV, you may choose to get vaccinated if you have not had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to any of the vaccine ingredients. 

If you have a weakened immune system, you should also know that it is possible you may have a reduced immune response to the vaccine. 

If you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor or clinic. If you decide to get vaccinated, it is important to continue to take everyday preventive actions to protect yourself against COVID-19.

Can I get the vaccine if I have an autoimmune disease? 

Experts believe that people with autoimmune conditions may get a COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. do not use live viruses and may be safely given to immunocompromised people.

However, no data are currently available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people with autoimmune conditions. 

Talk to your doctor or clinic about your health and the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine.