Do Healthy Adults Under Age 65 Need to Worry About COVID-19?

Reviewed on 6/10/2021

Most healthy adults under the age of 65 who get COVID-19 will have mild cases, but hospitalizations and rare deaths still occur in this younger age group. They are also at risk for debilitating illness with potential long-term health effects. Young adults also report lingering symptoms such as cough, fatigue, congestion, and shortness of breath (post-COVID syndrome).
Most healthy adults under the age of 65 who get COVID-19 will have mild cases, but hospitalizations and rare deaths still occur in this younger age group. They are also at risk for debilitating illness with potential long-term health effects. Young adults also report lingering symptoms such as cough, fatigue, congestion, and shortness of breath (post-COVID syndrome).

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, not previously identified in humans, that was responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness that became a global pandemic in 2020. COVID-19 is not the same as other coronaviruses that cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

While most healthy adults under age 65 who get COVID-19 will likely have mild cases, there are still hospitalizations and rare deaths in this younger age group. Younger adults are also at risk for debilitating illness with potential long-term health effects.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID Data Tracker reports that about 74% of COVID-19 cases have occurred among adults younger than 65 years, with the largest chunk of cases occurring in adults aged 18 to 29 years.

While adults over age 65 are hospitalized and die of COVID-19 at higher rates than younger adults, almost 92,000 people in the U.S. aged 18 to 64 years have died from COVID-19 as of May 26, 2021.

Even if they are not hospitalized, younger adults with no health problems often report lingering symptoms such as cough, fatigue, congestion, and shortness of breath, called post-COVID syndrome. A CDC report concluded, “COVID-19 can result in prolonged illness, even among young adults without underlying chronic medical conditions.”

What Are Symptoms of COVID-19?

The first symptoms of COVID-19 usually start about two to 14 days after exposure and include:

Other symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital’s emergency department if you experience: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Bluish lips or face
  • New confusion or inability to awaken

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Reviewed on 6/10/2021
References
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6939e1.htm

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#demographics

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6930e1.htm?s_cid=mm6930e1_w

https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-clinical-features?search=covid19&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1#H2222473005

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-monoclonal-antibody-treatment-covid-19

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2773055