News and insights brought to you by the International Diabetes Federation

Flu vaccine vial

A flu shot can save your life, and that’s the best reason for getting a vaccine immediately. For people living with diabetes in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to take preventive action and get vaccinated now.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.  However, people with diabetes are under a greater risk.  People with diabetes have compromised immune systems and this means it is harder to fight off the flu and the complications that come with it. People with diabetes are three times more likely to die of flu complications than people without diabetes.

In 2017 and 2018, there were more flu-related deaths than previous years, and hospitalization rates and nursing home outbreaks were also high.  In 2017, following a bad year for the flu in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Australia, the United States had 79,000 deaths from the H3N2 flu virus, which is a bad strain likely to dominate 2020, too.  Nearly 300,ooo cases of the flu were recorded in Australia this year.

The five best reasons to get vaccinated:

  1. A flu shot can save your life, and your loved ones.
  2. People with diabetes usually develop similar antibody levels after vaccination for the flu as healthy people.
  3. Influenza vaccines offer public health protection. The more people are vaccinated, the less risk the virus has from spreading.
  4. Even if you are managing diabetes like a pro you are still at greater risk for developing the flu and related complications, which can result in hospitaiization and even death.
  5. You can’t catch the flu from a flu shot. Flu vaccines are approved annually and they are safe, with only minor side effects for few people.

People with diabetes are three times more likely to die of flu complications than people without diabetes.

In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service is offering approximately 25 million people the influenza vaccine for free, with a special emphasis on school children and people with underlying conditions such as diabetes. Results of a comprehensive overview published in 2017 suggest that seasonal vaccine coverage in the European Region among high-risk groups has dropped.  However, EU/EEA Member States are urged to increase influenza vaccination coverage of all people at high risk and to attain a coverage of ≥75% among older people and people with chronic illnesses.

Recent studies by CDC researchers suggest that the annual vaccination usually reduces the risk of influenza illness by 40% to 60% among the overall population.  Influenza symptoms include:  fever (usually high), severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles, weakness, warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes, headache, dry cough, sore throat and runny nose.

Now that flu season is officially underway, contact your health provider or pharmacy and get vaccinated.


Elizabeth Snouffer is Editor of Diabetes Voice

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