Your questions about PH & coronavirus

Reviewed 26th May 2023

This page is reviewed and updated regularly. Please check back for updates.

People with pulmonary hypertension (PH) have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Although restrictions have now been lifted for a long time, it is important to respect and be considerate of those who may still wish to take a more cautious approach.

If you have pulmonary hypertension, it is really important that you are fully vaccinated. We have a page dedicated to vaccine questions here

We now have a website dedicated to documenting people’s experiences of the pandemic with PH. Visit it here.

Can I get a free lateral flow test if I have PH?

In England and Scotland the rules have changed, meaning most people are now unable to access free lateral flow tests. Unfortunately, having pulmonary hypertension does not automatically make you eligible for free tests.

These tests are only available free for those who also qualify for antiviral treatments – those who are immunosuppressed, or who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. If you fall into this category, you will have been notified.

If you have a hospital appointment or procedure that requires you to take a lateral flow test, your hospital will advise you where to obtain this.

Some NHS and social care workers are also eligible for free tests. Find out more here.

If you live in Wales or Northern Ireland, the rules are different. You can access the latest guidance for these nations below:

How does COVID-19 affect people with PH?

Following feedback from our members, who told us they would find it helpful to hear from people with PH who have contracted COVID-19, we asked for your experiences. You can read them here.

Can people with PH access the antiviral treatments?

The NHS is offering antibody and antiviral treatments to people with COVID-19 who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill. You can find out more about these treatments available here.

Having pulmonary hypertension, does not make you automatically eligible for these treatments. At present, they are being used only for those who are at the highest risk of getting seriously ill from the virus, and this includes those with suppressed immune systems. Those who are eligible should already have received a letter letting them know. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please contact your specialist.

Is it safe for me to attend medical appointments?

Please watch this video with PH consultant Dr Charlie Elliot, where he explains why hospitals and healthcare settings are safe, and what you should do if you still feel nervous about appointments.

This video was recorded in Spring 2022.

Do I need to wear a mask if I have PH?

Although legal requirements to wear face coverings have now been lifted in the UK, they may still be required in some areas, such as in healthcare settings.

If you find it difficult to wear a face covering because of your PH, you do not have to wear one – even in places where they are required.

We have created this bespoke exemption notice that you can carry with you and choose to show if you wish.

Some people who find it difficult to wear a mask choose to wear a face shield instead.

How can I minimise the risk of spreading or contracting coronavirus?

  • Regular hand washing is still the most effective thing that you can do to decrease your risk of infection. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, in particular after being in public places. Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Make sure everyone around you is practising good hand washing techniques.
  • Carry hand sanitiser with you outside of the home and use it regularly, especially if you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Make sure you have been fully vaccinated against other preventable infections, including the influenza vaccination.
  • Eating a good diet, getting enough sleep and taking regular exercise (within your capabilities) all help to ensure you stay as well as possible.