3 Ways Young Adults Are Vulnerable To COVID-19 And Its Impact

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: August 13, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, it’s become increasingly apparent that people of all ages - including young adults - are susceptible to COVID-19. Early reports suggested young adults were more likely to suffer mild cases of COVID-19, but as time goes on, it is clear young adults can and do suffer from severe COVID-19 cases. While we don’t yet know why some young adults are more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications than others, there are some behaviors putting young adults at greater risk.
  1. Smoking/Vaping.
    The Journal of Adolescent Health recently published a study finding one-third of young adults, aged 18-25, are more susceptible to severe complications with COVID-19 because they smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes. When smokers were removed from the study, the number of young adults at risk for developing severe complications from COVID-19 dropped to 16%. The study found that with young adults, a person’s smoking status affected the severity of COVID-19 more than obesity and asthma.
  2. Perception of risk.
    According to data compiled by Pew Research Center, adults ages 18-29 are less likely to view the coronavirus outbreak as a threat to their health than other age groups. Twenty-six percent of 18-29 year olds reported feeling the COVID-19 outbreak was a threat to their health. Adults age 65+ are nearly twice as likely to deem the pandemic as a health threat. If young adults don’t believe the pandemic poses a threat to their health, experts are concerned they will be less likely to follow social distancing guidelines and mask recommendations or mandates.
  3. Following guidelines?
    More and more local health departments are issuing statements directed at young adults, imploring them to abide by health department recommendations and mandates. Ohio just recently released such a statement, reminding young adults that wearing masks and practicing social distancing not only helps protect them from contracting the virus, but also helps curb the spread of COVID-19 to others. White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx made a statement recently noting her surprise at the spike in COVID-19 cases among young adults. She stated she believes it is because many young adults have stopped adhering to virus-curbing measures. While there is no way to truly measure the number of young adults wearing face coverings or practicing social distancing, experts are increasingly concerned that young adults are attempting to “return to normal” too soon.

Young adults play a crucial role in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. It is important the younger population recognize the implications of the role they play, as their cooperation in controlling the spread of COVID-19 may be key in helping both the economy and the job market to rebound. Two-thirds of millennials reported their employment status being negatively affected (job loss, reduced hours, pay cut) as a result of the pandemic. By abiding by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidelines - like wearing a mask and practicing social distancing - young adults can positively impact not only the medical battle against COVID-19, but also the economic one.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.