Important Vaccines for People with Diabetes
The CDC advises that people with diabetes get certain vaccines. Vaccines help your
body's immune system learn how to protect itself against bacteria or viruses to prevent
infection. People with diabetes should get a yearly flu shot each fall. They should
also get a pneumococcal vaccine. This helps protect against pneumonia. It's also important
to get a hepatitis B vaccine, which protects against an infection of the liver. Here's
why it's so important for someone with diabetes to have these shots, and the best
times to get them.
Influenza, also known as the flu, is an infection caused by a virus. The virus spreads
from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Flu symptoms may include a sudden
high fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, dry cough, and headache.
But people with diabetes who catch the flu may become especially sick. The illness
sometimes leads to pneumonia or a dangerously high blood glucose level. In some cases,
you may need a stay in the hospital.
The best way to protect yourself against the flu is by getting the flu vaccine. This
vaccine doesn't provide complete protection. It makes it less likely that you will
catch the flu for about the next 6 months. You need a new flu shot every year. The
best time to get the flu shot is when it becomes available in your community. Then
you'll be protected before flu season begins. It helps if the people you live with
get flu shots, too.
Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial illness. It can cause serious–even deadly–infections
of the lungs (pneumonia), blood (bacteremia), and covering of the brain and spinal
cord (meningitis). Having diabetes increases the risk for serious complications and
death from these illnesses.
There are 2 pneumococcal vaccines. Talk with your healthcare provider about these
2 important vaccines and whether or not you need them.
Hepatitis B shots
The vaccine for hepatitis B is advised for people younger than 60. It is also suggested
for those ages 60 and older. It's given in a series of 3 shots over a 6-month period.
You need all 3 shots in order to be immune. If you've had some of the hepatitis B
vaccine series in the past but not all 3 shots, you only need to have the remaining
shots. You don't need to start over.
Talk with your healthcare provider
Before you get any of these vaccines, talk with your healthcare provider. He or she
can help you get vaccines at the correct times to make sure you're fully protected.
Newer vaccines, such as for shingles (herpes zoster), may also be recommended to people
with diabetes at an earlier age than is usually recommended. This is especially so
for those who have experienced nerve damage or neuropathy.