Some groups of people have a higher risk of severe illness resulting from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. They are particularly vulnerable. The highest risk applies to people aged 70 years and older. However, people with underlying health conditions may also have a higher risk of severe illness. There are also people who are vulnerable due to severely impaired immunity. What can these people do to protect themselves, and what can people around them do? 

In an open society without significant measures to curb COVID-19, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can spread more easily. People who are at higher risk can take their own measures to protect themselves, without restricting contact with others more than necessary.

Recommendations for people who are vulnerable


Most people are well protected against severe illness after vaccination against COVID-19. Vaccine-induced protection wanes over time.  A repeat vaccination is important to refresh your protection. The repeat vaccination against COVID-19 helps you maintain extra protection against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and helps to prevent severe illness and hospital admission. Anyone over 12 is eligible to get the vaccination, from 3 months after the most recent COVID-19 vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 infection. The first invitations were sent to people in medical risk groups and care workers who have contact with patients.

Visiting: symptoms, self-testing, GGD tests and self-isolation

Before meeting people, ask them if they have any symptoms. If they do have symptoms, ask them to stay home and not visit you. Do not visit people with symptoms. Ask people to use a self-test before seeing you. Especially if there are many people with COVID-19: If someone has tested positive for COVID-19, do not receive them in your home and do not go to visit them.

Maintain distance and avoid crowds

Distancing is the best way to avoid infection. If you want to be extra careful, ask people to keep their distance. Ideally, you should only meet with people with whom you can make clear agreements about distancing. Also, do not get together with too many people at once. For example, limit groups to four people at a time.

Avoid busy places as much as possible. You should preferably avoid large gatherings, unless it involves important (family) events, such as weddings or funerals. Take extra precautions when visiting places where you cannot check whether other visitors have any symptoms. Wear a medical face mask (at least type II or IIR) that covers your mouth and nose in places where it is difficult to stay 1.5 metres apart. Do your shopping at quiet times as much as possible. You could consider asking others to do the shopping, or have your groceries delivered.

If you go somewhere, arrange your own transport as much as possible. If that is not possible and someone else gives you a lift, ask if the person has any symptoms, and ask them to use a self-test. Wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose during the trip, and sit on the right-hand side of the back seat behind the driver if possible. Also wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose in public transport or in the regional taxi.

Keep moving

Go outside regularly to take a walk or go cycling. Exercise is good for you and keeps you healthy. Choose quiet locations and less busy times to go out.

Recommendations for accommodating vulnerable people around you

If you have vulnerable people around you, or work with vulnerable people, you can help protect them. You can reduce the risk of infecting someone else with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

The following recommendations will help: 

  • If you have symptoms, stay home and use a self-test. 
  • Start self-isolating if you test positive for COVID-19.
  • Get vaccinated when you are invited to do so.
  • Stay 1.5 metres from others.

Other than that, follow the hygiene recommendations: 

  • Wash your hands regularly. 
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow. 
  • Ensure a good flow of fresh air.

If you are going to visit someone who is vulnerable, use a self-test beforehand – even if you do not have any symptoms. Make agreements about distancing or masking, for example.

By getting vaccinated, you protect yourself against serious illness and reduce the risk of infecting others.  This is how you can help protect vulnerable people around you.