COVID-19 Vaccination and Pre-existing Medical Conditions

What people with pre-existing medical conditions should know about getting the vaccine


For many of us, getting vaccinated provided peace of mind, hope for the future, and most importantly, the confidence that we are protected against becoming seriously ill from the COVID-19 virus. However, for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, getting the COVID-19 vaccine may cause added anxiety and another reason to schedule a visit with their health care provider.

For those who already did their research, connected with their health care provider, and got the vaccine, we applaud you. But if you’re still feeling unsure, we have some common questions and answers that might help you with your next steps to getting vaccinated!

We spoke with Dr. Consuelo Rodriguez, a research assistant at Pacific Northwest University of Health & Sciences (PNWU) about the most common medical conditions and what to consider if you’re thinking about getting vaccinated.

What are the most common pre-existing medical conditions?

The pre-existing medical conditions that we see most often are diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and lipid disorder — this one occurs when a person has high blood levels of cholesterol and fats called triglycerides. We also see many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

How can COVID-19 affect people with these pre-existing medical conditions?

People with pre-existing medical conditions have higher risk of getting seriously sick or dying if they get COVID-19. Many chronic illnesses affect a person’s organs, slowly decreasing the organs’ function, making them more vulnerable to severe COVID-19. For example, a person with kidney damage from diabetes is more likely to get sick since the decreased capacity of their kidneys already causes other complications, such as fluid retention. That’s why it’s so important for those with pre-existing medical conditions to get vaccinated — it protects them from serious complications from COVID-19.

One of the most common complications of COVID-19 is lung damage. The airways and tiny air sacs in the lungs can get blocked, leading to breathing problems. This resulting damage can require hospitalization, the need for breathing assistance from a ventilator, or even death.

Should people with pre-existing illnesses get the COVID-19 vaccine?

It’s critical for people with pre-existing medical conditions to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They’re more likely to get seriously sick or die if they are infected with COVID-19, and vaccination provides the best protection. The vaccines that we have work very well to keep people from getting seriously sick or dying from COVID-19. Since people with pre-existing conditions are more vulnerable to COVID-19, it’s very important for them to get vaccinated.

Were people with pre-existing conditions included in clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines? If so, what happened? Were the vaccines safe and effective for them?

When developing any new medicine or vaccine, a diverse patient base provides more information on how it will impact various groups of people. People with pre-existing conditions were included in all clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Clinical trials showed that people with pre-existing conditions who got the vaccine were more protected from COVID-19 compared to those who did not get the vaccine. The vaccine is safe and effective for people with pre-existing medical conditions, especially when comparing benefits to risks. While they have higher risks of experiencing complications from COVID-19 illness, there is very little risk of developing serious health effects from the vaccine.

What general advice can you give to people with these conditions who are considering getting vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for everyone 12 and older, including those with health conditions. If any patients –including those with chronic illnesses — are concerned, they should talk to their health care provider to help make the best decision for them.

Where can people find more information about vaccinating those who have pre-existing medical conditions?

It’s critical to get information from reliable sources to make informed decisions about getting vaccinated. But finding accurate information on the internet can be difficult, especially with misinformation out there. People should check the CDC website or for the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccine and pre-existing medical conditions.

More information

This blog is accurate as of the date of posting. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at You can also sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 12 and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today:

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington State may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.



Washington State Department of Health
Public Health Connection

Protecting and improving the health of people in Washington State.