Coronavirus (COVID-19): definitions of ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerable’

Some people are considered to be ‘vulnerable’ or ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ in relation to Covid-19. This page defines what both of these terms mean.

Definition of ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’

Medical experts identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about Covid-19 so far, place some people at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 

The list of highest risk diseases includes:

  • solid organ transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer and are having chemotherapy
    • people with lung cancer and are having radical radiotherapy
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • people with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
  • people with Motor Neurone Disease
  • people with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  • people on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
  • people who have had a splenectomy
  • those undergoing renal dialysis
  • adults with Down’s Syndrome
  • adult patient with kidney impairment (Stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease)

People with the conditions listed above have been defined as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.  Some people are considered to be ‘vulnerable’ but not ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. 

Some people may not fit into either the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘vulnerable’ definitions but may still have concerns about their risk of severe illness from Covid-19. 

If you have concerns, it is best to speak with your GP or hospital clinician as they will have knowledge of your medical history and circumstances.

Definition of ‘vulnerable’

Some people are considered to be ‘vulnerable’ but not ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ in relation to Covid-19.  People over the age of 70 are considered ‘vulnerable’, even if they do not have an underlying health condition. This also applies to those who are pregnant.

Others considered vulnerable include people who have are under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (i.e. for adults this usually is anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):

People with the conditions listed above have been defined as ‘vulnerable’ in relation to Covid-19.  Some people are also considered to be ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. 

Some people may not fit into either the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘vulnerable’ definitions but may still have concerns about their risk of severe illness from Covid-19. 

If you have concerns, it is best to speak with your GP or hospital clinician as they will have knowledge of your medical history and circumstances.

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