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Influenza and Pneumonia Vaccines and Diabetes

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Influenza and Pneumonia Vaccines and Diabetes

Why should you get a flu shot?

By Nina Nazor

Studies report that people with diabetes have an increased risk for hospitalization for influenza and its complications.

Also, it has been shown that the flu vaccine reduces diabetes-related hospital admission by as much as 79% during flu epidemics.

Who should get a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends the influenza vaccine for all people over 65 years of age, as well as for all people of any age with diabetes.

Since flu can be transmitted from person to person, vaccination of family members of people with diabetes is also recommended.

When should you get the flu shot?

The flu vaccine is recommended for people with diabetes 6 months and older, at the beginning of each September.

According to the ACIP, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, getting your vaccine before influenza season each year is the most effective way for reducing your risk of getting the flu.

Why yearly? Because immunity from influenza vaccination declines in the year after vaccination.
Also, the ACIP recommends that children younger than 9 years of age who have never been vaccinated, receive two doses of the flu vaccine administered at least 1 month apart (the last administered before December).

If you travel to the Southern Hemisphere between April and September (flu season for that region of the world), you should consider flu vaccination before your trip too.

What are the side effects of the flu shot?

The flu shot contains viruses that are not infectious, so it will not cause flu or other respiratory diseases. The most common side effect can be mild soreness at the site of the shot.

One note of caution is that people who are allergic to chicken eggs might have immediate allergic reactions after vaccination. This happens because the flu shot consists of egg-grown viruses.

What about pneumonia shots?

People with diabetes are susceptible to pneumonia and are at increased risk for complications of this disease. Additional risk is associated with being older than 65 years and having chronic cardiovascular, pulmonary or renal disease.

If you have been vaccinated in the previous 5 years and you are 65 years or older, a one-time revaccination is recommended.

Also, repeated vaccination is important for people with diabetes who have nephrotic syndrome, chronic renal disease or other immunocompromised states, such as post-organ transplantation.

Getting your yearly flu shot is very important; take it seriously. Better safe than sorry.

Source: American Diabetes Association. Immunization and the Prevention of Influenza and Pneumococcal Disease in People With Diabetes. Diabetes Care 26:S126-S128, 2003


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