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Flu jab ‘vital’ for people with diabetes

By Editor
30th August 2017
Care planning, Good practice

Healthcare professionals are being urged to ensure the people they treat who have diabetes are vaccinated against flu.

Many people who have diabetes are not aware of the seriousness of contracting influenza, or some are complacent about being vaccinated against it because they consider themselves to be generally healthy.

All people with diabetes, including those who are pregnant, should be vaccinated against flu, regardless of the type of diabetes they have or how they manage their condition. This is because people having diabetes raises the risk of contracting a potentially serious flu complication such as pneumonia. Elevated blood glucose levels, as a response to infection, can increase the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hyperglycaemic hyperosmolar state (HHS), either of which can be fatal if left untreated.

The flu jab is one of the 15 healthcare essentials that every person with diabetes should be receiving.

Speaking to Vaccines Today, Dr Xavier Cos, a GP specialising in diabetes care, said: “The reaction to the infectious process often exacerbates their metabolic disease. In many cases, they are also not as well able to fight the infection so a cascade of consequences can follow – just as in older people or those with chronic lung or kidney diseases. It makes sense to vaccinate all diabetes patients against flu given the potential for complications.”

Maximise Alvarez, who has diabetes and has had flu twice, said: “I remember the fever and fatigue as being unbearable. It is an unpleasant experience which should be avoided.

“Anything that affects your health has an impact on your diabetes. With flu, your blood sugar levels are affected and it becomes difficult to keep it under control. Resistance to fast-acting insulin is a frequent effect of influenza infection.’

Dr Cos said: “‘A lot of type 2 diabetes patients visit their primary care professional regularly. Flu vaccination should be a normal part of regular diabetes appointments.

“We are asking our citizens with this chronic condition to make important behavioural changes. This requires a good communication strategy – an area that often in not well covered at the university and during specialised medical and nursing training.”

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