Immunodeficiency Disorders & COVID-19

Last updated: March 30

People with immunodeficiency disorders are at greater risk for respiratory infections than the general population. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, people with immunodeficiency disorders, as well as those with other health concerns, are more likely to have serious complications after contracting the virus. Your physician can review your medical record to give you a greater understanding of your personal risk.

Here are answers to some common questions related to immunodeficiency disorders and COVID-19. Please note that these answers are subject to change as we receive more information about COVID-19. If you have additional questions not answered here, call your physician or the Northwestern Medicine COVID-19 hotline at 312.47.COVID (312.472.6843).

Frequently Asked Questions

People who have immunodeficiency disorders do not appear to be more likely to contract COVID-19. However, they are more likely to have serious complications. Experts believe that the more underlying health conditions a person has, the higher their chance of having serious complications from COVID-19. It also depends on the type of immunodeficiency you have.

Most people who have immunodeficiencies or who take medications to suppress their immune system are considered immunocompromised. This means your immune system is less able to fight infections. It is especially important that you take precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

Some research that suggests that the virus may be present in the air for up to 3 hours or longer. The virus may also be able to survive on surfaces up to 3 days or longer, so it is important to disinfect surfaces that maybe contaminated. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks daily to protect yourself against COVID-19. You can use regular household cleaning products to do this.

If you receive monthly immunoglobulin replacement therapy infusions, please continue to receive your treatment. At this time, we believe the health risk of stopping your immunoglobulin treatment is higher than the likelihood of you getting COVID-19 from your immunoglobulin product. Northwestern Medicine is taking great precautions to help ensure the safety of all patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please talk to your physician about visitor limitations that are in place to protect you and all patients, visitors, physicians and staff.

Keep at least a 2-week supply of your medications and contact your physician if you need refills. To refill your prescription, you can limit exposure to the virus by using a mail-order service or drive-thru pharmacy, or have a caregiver pick up your medication.

Physicians recommend that people with immunodeficiencies adhere to the recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prioritizing extreme physical distancing and hand hygiene. You should also exercise, eat well, reduce stress and get plenty of sleep.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call your physician for guidance.

If you have been exposed to someone who received a COVID-19 diagnosis, you should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of the virus. If you begin to experience symptoms, call your physician.

The understanding about COVID-19 is evolving rapidly. For the latest information, including more detailed responses to some frequently asked questions, please visit the following websites: