CDC Adds New Medical Conditions to COVID-19 High-Risk List

Miriam E. Tucker

March 31, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added several new medical conditions to its list of those that predispose adults to more severe COVID-19 illness.

Conditions that had previously been categorized as "might be" placing individuals at increased risk — but now are listed as high risk — include type 1 diabetes (in addition to type 2), moderate-to-severe asthma, liver disease, dementia or other neurological conditions, stroke/cerebrovascular disease, HIV infection, cystic fibrosis, and overweight (in addition to obesity).

Substance use disorders, which hadn't been previously listed, are now also considered high-risk.  

The new list groups together certain categories, such as chronic lung diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis, etc) and heart conditions (heart failure, coronary artery disease, hypertension, etc).

Both diabetes types are now grouped under "diabetes."  

The added medical conditions were posted on the CDC website's COVID-19 page on March 29.

Type 1 Diabetes and Other Conditions Now Priority for Vaccination

The CDC refers to the medical conditions list as Phase 1c in regard to COVID-19 vaccine prioritization, which means that anyone with any of these conditions can now be prioritized for vaccination, following those in groups 1a (frontline essential workers and those in long-term care facilities) and 1b (people aged 65-74; other essential workers; and people aged 16-64 with underlying conditions that increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19).

But in many cases, multiple states have already either fully opened up vaccine eligibility to all adults or have created their own lists of underlying high-risk medical conditions, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told Medscape Medical News.  

No conditions have been removed from the list.

In January, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and 18 other organizations sent a letter to the CDC requesting that type 1 diabetes be prioritized along with type 2, based on data from studies showing people with both types to be at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

Now, ADA says, "This updated guidance will help to address the fact that in many states, millions of people with type 1 diabetes have not been prioritized equally, slowing their access to critical vaccines."

While awaiting this latest CDC move, ADA had been urging state governors to prioritize type 1 and type 2 diabetes equally. As of now, 38 states and the District of Columbia had either done so or announced that they would.

Miriam E. Tucker is a freelance journalist based in the Washington DC area. She is a regular contributor to Medscape, with other work appearing in the Washington Post, NPR's Shots blog, and Diabetes Forecast magazine. You can find her on Twitter @MiriamETucker.

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