Coronavirus Resources

Returning to Work if You’re Immunocompromised

A man at work wearing a face mask.
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As communities and workplaces begin to open back up, many people have questions and concerns about their next steps. If you are immunocompromised (having a weakened immune system), you may feel especially cautious about resuming your normal activities. This can cause a dilemma if your company or manager expects you to go back to your workplace.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are immunocompromised may have a higher risk of becoming severely ill. This risk is because a weakened immune system may be limited in fighting off diseases effectively.
You may be immunocompromised if you have:

  • A long history of taking corticosteroids or other medications that can weaken the immune system

  • An immune deficiency

  • HIV or AIDS that is poorly controlled

  • Undergone a bone marrow or organ transplantation

  • Undergone cancer treatment

Play It Safe With Returning to Work

Because there are still many questions about everyone’s safety, as life begins to get back to normal, it’s important to continue to follow guidelines from the CDC to protect yourself from getting sick. These steps include:

Be Assured That It’s Safe to Get Health Care In-Person

At AdventHealth, our hospitals and clinician’s offices are prepared to treat you and are taking a number of steps to keep you safe at in-person visits. Get emergency care for your condition if you need it — we’re taking steps to ensure you can do so safely. Call your doctor right away if you have any concerns or think you may have COVID-19.

Share Your Concerns With Your Doctor

If you are immunocompromised, talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors before heading back to work or discontinuing any of the safety measures above. If your company wants you to return to work and you don’t feel safe, ask your doctor for guidance on how to handle the situation. Your doctor may be able to give you a note explaining that you are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are sensitive about your specific medical condition, your physician does not have to mention what the condition is.

Talk With Your Employer About Returning to Work

As businesses and states begin to reopen, experts say it will likely be a slow process that will happen in waves. If you have concerns about your health in your work setting, reach out to your manager or human resources department to talk about your possible options.

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), if you are immunocompromised, you can request that a “reasonable accommodation” be made for you. This is “a change in the work environment that allows an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity to apply for a job, perform a job’s essential functions, or enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.”

Some examples of reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Asking for accommodations to your workspace that minimize your face-to-face contact with other employees or customers

  • Requesting to be assigned to a job that will allow you to keep a distance of at least 6 feet from other workers, clients and customers

  • Requesting to work remotely until the threat of coronavirus has passed

Suggest Social Distancing Strategies in Your Workplace

You can also talk with your employer about ways they might implement social distancing guidelines for businesses, as recommended by the CDC, so that all employees feel safe. These include:

  • Allowing employees to work from home when possible

  • Increasing the amount of physical space between employees, including in break rooms and cafeterias

  • Increasing the amount of space between employees and customers by putting up partitions or using curbside pickup or delivery

  • Offering services remotely, by phone, video or Internet

  • Putting flexible work hours into place, so not as many people are working at once

Here to Care for You Safely

To make sure you’re taking the right steps to keep yourself healthy and safe, check in with your physician often and follow recommendations from trusted sources, such as the CDC and state health officials. Visit your primary care physician today or find a doctor near you.

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