What does it mean to be immunocompromised?

Those who are immunocompromised should take extra precaution to avoid exposure to COVID-19. This includes individuals with cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune conditions, HIV, and other medical conditions. This also includes those undergoing medical treatment with immunosuppressive drugs, transplant recipients, and those with inherited immunodeficiency.

As the pandemic continues, we understand your concerns around your condition and whether you should see your doctor or healthcare professional during this time. Our teams have compiled some helpful tips to help you navigate COVID-19 and take precautions at home and, if or when you come see us, for care. This page will be updated as recommendations change.

General Prevention Guidelines

  • Monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms: which typically include fever, respiratory (cough/shortness of breath), or gastrointestinal illness (diarrhea/vomiting).
  • Stay home to decrease the chance of getting infected or spreading the infection (There is now evidence to indicate that asymptomatic people can transfer the infection).
  • Avoid sharing household items (dishes, towels, bedding) with other people.
  • If anyone is sick in your household they should self-isolate in a separate room and not be in contact with you; Use a separate bathroom, if not possible, clean and disinfect after a sick person uses it.
  • Use a dishwasher to sterilize dishes at high temperature.
  • Avoid interactions with people who are not in your household, including friends and neighbors; If you have to be in contact with someone outside of your household, respect a 6 ft distance, no hand contact; Do not go on a plane.
  • Limit shopping: use home or curbside delivery when possible If you have to go to the store/pharmacy/doctor’s office, be mindful of touching elevator buttons, door handles.
  • Do not touch your phone while you are outside of your home.
  • Upon returning home from essential activities (i.e., shopping for food/medicine/doctor visit if needed), wipe your phone/car keys with a disinfectant wife or alcohol wipe, take a shower, wash your clothes.
  • When bringing in groceries from the store, use alcohol/soap/disinfectant wipes to clean the objects you are bringing into the house.
  • Wash hands regularly and carefully on all hand surfaces for >20s (make sure you are cleaning in between fingers).
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces daily at home.

Masks

  • If you are experiencing symptoms, you should wear a mask when in public settings, including in medical centers. Immunocompromised patients will be masked in the clinic.

Stress

  • Fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Be sure to take breaks, take care of your body, connect with others, and call us if stress gets in the way of daily activities for several days in a row.

Preparation

  • If you take medication, be sure to have enough on hand. Also make a plan so you know what steps to take if you were to get sick.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

  • If you have an appointment scheduled and have a fever and/or respiratory symptoms, call your primary care health care provider or UT Health Austin at 833-882-2737 before coming in for your appointment. The line is answered from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Telehealth visits are being offered through UT Health Austin. Please ask our Health Access Partner for details when you call.
  • If you are at the clinic and experience symptoms, we will assess your risk of exposure to COVID-19 by asking additional questions. Anyone with symptoms will be given a mask and evaluated in a separate area.
  • Mild cases of COVID-19 will be monitored at home.
  • Severe cases may need to be evaluated in the ER or admitted to the hospital.