Guest blogger, Ann Constance, is an MA, RDN, CDE, FAADE, and
Director of the U P Diabetes Outreach Network in Marquette, MI.
Fall and winter bring back school, cooler temperatures, football and holidays. While you may look forward to many of these things, one visitor that you don’t want to have is the flu. Luckily there are ways to avoid getting the flu, like washing your hands often, disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs and staying away from sick people. The most important step to protect yourself from flu is to get a flu shot.
Getting a flu shot is especially important for anyone who lives with diabetes. The flu coupled with diabetes can lead to serious complications, often resulting in hospitalization and even death. Flu illness can make it harder to control your blood sugar. Flu might raise your sugar to high levels but sometimes people do not feel like eating when they are sick, and this can cause blood sugar levels to fall. Even if you still get the flu, it usually is not as serious if you have had a flu shot.
When you get your flu shot, it’s the perfect time to have a yearly vaccination check-up to see if there are other vaccines you may need. If you live with diabetes, here are the vaccinations you will want to make certain you are up to date on:
- Hepatitis B: Get this series of shots if you are under 60 and have never had them before. Check with your health care team if you are over the age of 60.
- Pneumococcal (pneumonia shot): If you are under the age of 65, you should get a pneumonia shot. After you turn 65, you will need to get two different kinds of pneumonia shots depending on age and health condition
- Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough): Make certain you have had at least one if your lifetime. If you are pregnant, you will need the vaccine during each pregnancy. After that, you need a Td booster every 10 years.
- Zoster (shingles): If you are 50 years of age or older, get 2 doses of the Shingrix vaccine, even if you have already had the Zostavax ® vaccine.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): This 3-dose vaccine is recommended for women younger than 26 and men under the age of 22.
- Additional vaccines you may need: Include Hepatitis A, Hib (Haemophilus influenza type), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and Varicella (chicken pox). Just ask your health care provider if you need to get any of these vaccines.
- If you are traveling internationally: There may be other vaccinations recommended or required for your destination.
Vaccines have been and continue to be the best disease protection tool against vaccine-preventable diseases. Polio no longer kills and paralyzes people because of vaccines. In 18th century Europe, an estimated 400,000 died each year due to smallpox; that is a thing of the past thanks to vaccines. Don’t risk serious illness or even death — get your flu shot each year, along with a vaccine check-up. To learn more about important vaccines for people living with diabetes visit the CDC’s (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Healthy Living with Diabetes guide, where you’ll find printable vaccine information to help you plan for vaccination.