Practice Resources

Importance of Vaccines for People with Diabetes

People living with diabetes are at increased risk of developing serious complications from vaccine-preventable diseases. These include influenza, pneumococcal disease, hepatitis B, shingles, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. 

The problem is that many of them don't know it. Case in point: The influenza vaccine. The MADIABETES cohort study found that only 66% of people with diabetes received the flu vaccine; and the higher someone’s A1C, the less likely they were to get it. The most common reason: they didn’t feel they were at risk. 

Practice Paper

Vaccination Practices for Adults with Diabetes

vaccine diabetes practice paper

This newly revised practice paper is designed to help diabetes care and education specialists understand the importance of having a vaccines conversation because:   

  1. People with diabetes are 6 times more likely to be hospitalized due to complications from the flu or pneumonia.
  2. People with diabetes are 3 times more likely to die due to complications from the flu or pneumonia
  3. Because of #1 and #2, diabetes educators must help make vaccinations obtainable for people with diabetes. Simply having a list of places where the vaccinations are being offered, cost, etc., can go a long way.

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How to Talk to People with Diabetes who are Reluctant to Getting Vaccinated

People with diabetes are more susceptible to vaccine-preventable illness and diseases than the general public; unfortunately, many PWDs are not aware of this risk to their health. Educational visits are an opportune time for diabetes care and education specialists to promote vaccines as part of an effective strategy for preventative care. Dr. Melissa Young shares 5 tips you can use to promote vaccines to people who might be reluctant to get vaccinated.

COVID-19-Related Vaccines Guidance  

The CDC has released recommendations related to pediatric and adult vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic:

COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Resources

Delivery of Adult Clinical Preventive Services, Including Immunizations, During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Delivery of some clinical preventive services, such as immunizations, requires face to face encounters and in areas with community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, these should be postponed except when:

  • An in-person visit must be scheduled for some other purpose and the clinical preventive service can be delivered during that visit with no additional risk; or
  • An individual patient and their clinician believe that there is a compelling need to receive the service based on an assessment that the potential benefit outweighs the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 

Maintaining Childhood Immunizations During COVID-19 Pandemic

Ensuring the delivery of newborn and well-child care, including childhood immunization, requires different strategies. Healthcare providers in communities affected by COVID-19 are using strategies to separate well visits from sick visits. Examples include:

  • Scheduling well visits in the morning and sick visits in the afternoon
  • Separating patients spatially, such as by placing patients with sick visits in different areas of the clinic or another location from patients with well visits. 
  • Collaborating with providers in the community to identify separate locations for holding well visits for children. 

Because of personal, practice, or community circumstances related to COVID-19, some providers may not be able to provide well child visits, including provision of  immunizations, for all patients in their practice. If a practice can provide only limited well child visits, healthcare providers are encouraged to prioritize newborn care and vaccination of infants and young children (through 24 months of age) when possible. CDC is monitoring the situation and will continue to provide guidance.

Tips for Spreading the Word about the Importance of Vaccines

  • Discuss vaccinations during an annual review of exams, labs, and immunizations. Weave it into a conversation about reducing the risks of illness and infection.
  • Use the patient education tool from the CDC during diabetes education sessions, in educational racks, and in other locations where it will be accessible to people with diabetes.
  • Volunteer to give a talk about vaccinations for people with diabetes at a local community center, church, or health fair. 
  • Enlist peer educators or health aides to discuss the increased risk of infection that people with diabetes face.
  • Include a note in patient records that you spoke about vaccinations, along with a request for follow up by the primary care provider. 
  • Mention the risk of hepatitis B infection when you discuss blood glucose monitoring. Emphasize the availability of the vaccine when teaching about the safe handling of equipment. 
  • Add a question about vaccination to your patient questionnaire or self-assessment and discuss it during an individual session. 
  • Incorporate vaccine information into support group discussions about sick days and prevention. You may want to time the discussion with the start of flu season.
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