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People More Likely to Develop Long COVID

Some people may be more at risk for developing post-COVID conditions (or long COVID). Researchers are working to understand which people or groups of people are more likely to have post-COVID conditions, and why. Studies have shown that some groups of people may be affected more by post-COVID conditions. These are examples and not a comprehensive list of people or groups who might be more at risk than other groups for developing post-COVID conditions:

  • People who have experienced more severe COVID-19 illness, especially those who were hospitalized or needed intensive care.

  • People who had underlying health conditions prior to COVID-19.

  • People who did not get a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • People who experience multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after COVID-19 illness.

Health Inequities May Affect Populations at Risk for Long COVID

Some people are at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19 because of where they live or work, or because they can’t get health care. Health inequities may put some people from racial or ethnic minority groups and some people with disabilities at greater risk for developing post-COVID conditions. Scientists are researching some of those factors that may place these communities at higher risk of both getting infected or developing post-COVID conditions.

Preventing Long COVID

The best way to prevent post-COVID conditions is to protect yourself and others from becoming infected. For people who are eligible, getting vaccinated and staying up to date with vaccines against COVID-19 can help prevent COVID-19 infection and protect against severe illness. Research suggests that people who are vaccinated but experience a breakthrough infection are less likely to report post-COVID conditions, compared to people who are unvaccinated.

Living with Long COVID

Living with a post-COVID condition can be hard, especially when there are no immediate answers or solutions.

However, people experiencing post-COVID conditions can seek care from a healthcare provider to come up with a personal medical management plan that can help improve their symptoms and quality of life. Review these tips to help prepare for a healthcare provider appointment for post-COVID conditions. In addition, there are many support groups being organized that can help patients and their caregivers.

Although post-COVID conditions appear to be less common in children and adolescents than in adults, long-term effects after COVID-19 do occur in children and adolescents.

Talk to your doctor if you think you or your child has long COVID or a post-COVID condition. Learn more: Tips for Talking to Your Healthcare Provider about Post-COVID Conditions

Data for Long COVID

Studies are in progress to better understand post-COVID conditions and how many people experience them.

CDC is using multiple approaches to estimate how many people experience post-COVID conditions. Each approach can provide a piece of the puzzle to give us a better picture of who is experiencing post-COVID conditions. For example, some studies look for the presence of post-COVID conditions based on self-reported symptoms, while others collect symptoms and conditions recorded in medical records. Some studies focus only on people who have been hospitalized, while others include people who were not hospitalized. The estimates for how many people experience post-COVID conditions can be quite different depending on who was included in the study, as well as how and when the study collected information. Estimates of the proportion of people who had COVID-19 that go on to experience post-COVID conditions can vary:

  • 13.3% at one month or longer after infection

  • 2.5% at three months or longer, based on self-reporting

  • More than 30% at 6 months among patients who were hospitalized

CDC and other federal agencies, as well as academic institutions and research organizations, are working to learn more about the short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19, who gets them and why.

Scientists are also learning more about how new variants could potentially affect post-COVID symptoms. We are still learning to what extent certain groups are at higher risk, and if different groups of people tend to experience different types of post-COVID conditions. These studies, including for example CDC’s INSPIRE and NIH’s RECOVERexternal icon, will help us better understand post-COVID conditions and how healthcare providers can treat or support patients with these longer-term effects. CDC will continue to share information with healthcare providers to help them evaluate and manage these conditions.

CDC is working to:

  • Better identify the most frequent symptoms and diagnoses experienced by patients with post-COVID conditions.

  • Better understand how many people are affected by post-COVID conditions, and how often people who are infected with COVID-19 develop post-COVID conditions afterwards.

  • Better understand risk factors, including which groups might be more at risk, and if different groups experience different symptoms.

  • Help understand how post-COVID conditions limit or restrict people’s daily activity.

  • Help identify groups that have been more affected by post-COVID conditions, lack access to care and treatment for post-COVID conditions, or experience stigma.

  • Better understand the role vaccination plays in preventing post-COVID conditions.

  • Collaborate with professional medical groups to develop and offer clinical guidance and other educational materials for healthcare providers, patients, and the public.

Related Pages

  • Caring for People with Post-COVID Conditions

  • Preparing for Appointments for Post-COVID Conditions

  • Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery

  • Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability Under the ADA

For Healthcare Professionals

  • Post-COVID Conditions: Healthcare Providers

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