Catching the flu or pneumonia is no fun for anyone, but if you have diabetes, you’re more likely than others to become very sick.
People with diabetes should strongly consider the benefits of vaccinations because the disease can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off infections. Illness can also make your blood sugar levels rise and put you at risk for complications, such as pneumonia.
The statistics are stark: People who have diabetes are about three times more likely than others to die from flu and pneumonia. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to decrease the risk. Get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year and make sure you are up to date on your pneumonia vaccines.
The flu vaccine should be received as soon as it is made available (usually late summer or early fall).
As a precaution, ask the people you live with—or people you are often around—to get a flu shot as well. The vaccine is not 100% effective, but it’s less likely you’ll catch the flu if those near you don’t have it.
Fall is a good time to think about both immunization shots because flu can sometimes lead to pneumonia.
The pneumonia vaccines guard against the majority of pneumococcal bacteria—the most common cause of pneumonia in the U.S. These same bacteria can also cause bacteremia (a blood infection) or meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord). Most people with diabetes only require one pneumonia shot until age 64. At age 65 or older, they may need to be vaccinated again if their first shot was more than five years ago. At age 65, they may also need an additional type of pneumonia vaccine to ensure that they are protected against as many strains of pneumococcal bacteria as possible.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises everyone with diabetes to receive a flu vaccine every year and the pneumonia vaccine(s) as indicated by the CDC's recommended immunization schedules. Unvaccinated adults with diabetes, who are aged 19-59 years, should also receive the hepatitis B vaccine series. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to determine which immunizations you may need.
Always consult your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional before changing your daily activity, diet, or adding a supplement. Ask your Rite Aid Pharmacist for more information on diabetes and the importance of vaccinations.
“Flu and People with Diabetes”. CDC.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/diabetes/index.htm. Updated May 26, 2016.
“Flu and Pneumonia Shots.” American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/other-treatments/flu-and-pneumonia-shots.html#sthash.j7cf8gki.dpuf. Edited August 29, 2014.
“Pneumococcal Vaccination.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/vaccination.html. Updated December 20, 2015.
“Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule, by Vaccine and Age Group.” Vaccines.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://vaccines.gov/who_and_when/adults/index.html. Updated February 1, 2016.
“Protect Yourself Against the Flu.” Diabetes Forecast, American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2012/oct/protect-yourself-against-the-flu.html. Published October 2012.
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.