If I have a health condition, should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, many people are wondering whether it’s right for them. BJC HealthCare wants you to have the information you need to make the right decision for yourself and for your loved ones.

If you’re pregnant or you have a health condition such as diabetes, for example, it’s important to be as informed as possible. You should always consult with your doctor about the specifics of your health condition, but here’s some general information provided by our experts:


Jeannie Kelly, MD, MS, a Washington University maternal-fetal medicine specialist, says COVID-19 infections are more dangerous during pregnancy. “Moms who are pregnant who get COVID-19 have a higher risk of needing to be hospitalized, a higher risk of needing a machine to help them breathe, and a higher risk of needing to go to the ICU,” Dr. Kelly says.

If a pregnant woman becomes severely ill during pregnancy, risks for the baby also go up.

Dr. Kelly shares what pregnant and breastfeeding women need to know about COVID-19 and the vaccine and encourages them to talk with their medical provider about the vaccine.


BJC experts Clay Semenkovich, MD, and Moyosore Onifade, MD, both say the vaccine is safe for people with diabetes — and both encourage their patients with diabetes to get the vaccine.

“People with complications of diabetes are at much higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” Dr. Semenkovich says. “Complications can include pneumonia, respiratory failure, low level oxygen in the blood, hospitalization or being placed on a ventilator. There is a lot of evidence that the vaccine can prevent some of these complications if someone has diabetes and were to test positive for COVID-19.”

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and diabetes from Drs. Semenkovich and Onifade.

Heart disease:

The CDC has recommended individuals with heart conditions be one of the first groups to get the vaccine. Angela Brown, MD, Washington University cardiovascular specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, agrees. She notes that vaccination is especially important for this group because people with heart disease are more susceptible to complications from COVID-19.

The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were tested in people with heart conditions and were found to be safe and effective. Learn more about heart disease and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Autoimmune conditions:

According to the CDC, people with autoimmune disease may receive a COVID-19 vaccine; however, no data are currently available on the safety of these vaccines for people with autoimmune conditions.

See what two autoimmune disease specialists — Washington University School of Medicine rheumatologist Alfred Kim, MD, PhD, and Missouri Baptist Medical Center neurologist Barry Singer, MD — recommend for their patients.

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