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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

At-Risk Individuals

At-risk individuals are people with access and functional needs that may interfere with their ability to access or receive medical care before, during, or after a disaster or emergency. Irrespective of specific diagnosis, status, or label, the terms “access and functional needs” are defined as follows:

  • Access-based needs:  All people must have access to certain resources, such as social services, accommodations, information, transportation, medications to maintain health, and so on.
  • Function-based needs:  Function-based needs refer to restrictions or limitations an individual may have that requires assistance before, during, and/or after a disaster or public health emergency.

The 2013 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act defines at-risk individuals as children, older adults, pregnant women, and individuals who may need additional response assistance. Examples of these populations may include but are not limited to individuals with disabilities, individuals who live in institutional settings, individuals from diverse cultures, individuals who have limited English proficiency or are non-English speaking, individuals who are transportation disadvantaged, individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals who have chronic medical disorders, and individuals who have pharmacological dependency.

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  • This page last reviewed: July 27, 2016