Autoimmune Disorders & COVID-19

Last updated: April 9

Based on what we know so far about COVID-19, people with autoimmune disorders and other health concerns have been more likely to have severe complications after contracting the virus than the general population. 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 autoimmune 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 autoimmune disorders do not appear to be more likely to contract COVID-19. However, they may have severe complications if their immune systems are suppressed, either by their disease or by medications that treat their autoimmune disorder. Experts believe that the more underlying health conditions a person has, the higher their chance of having serious complications from COVID-19. It is unclear what impact COVID-19 has on the overactivity of the immune system in many autoimmune diseases. Additionally, it is unclear how the overactivity of the immune system in many autoimmune diseases affects the outcomes of COVID-19 infection.

Most people who take medications to suppress their immune systems are considered at least somewhat immunocompromised. This means your immune system is impaired and is less able to fight infections. It is especially important that you take precautions to avoid a COVID-19 infection.

Keep at least a 30-day 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.

Continue taking your medications as prescribed by your physician. Do not stop any of your medications without discussing this with your physician. If you receive regular infusions to treat your autoimmune disorder, talk to your physician about what is best for you.

Physicians recommend that people with autoimmune disorders 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 news about COVID-19 is evolving rapidly. For the latest information, including more detailed responses to some frequently asked questions, please visit the following websites: