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Immunization in Diabetes

Posted on February 7, 2023 | No Comments on Immunization in Diabetes

People with diabetes can have abnormalities in their immune function. This puts them at greater risk of infection and its complications including repeated hospitalization and death. Immunization can boost their resistance against certain infections as well as reduce hospital admissions and life-threatening illnesses. Below are some recommendations related to immunization.


Get your flu shot yearly. Influenza occurs throughout the year in the tropics and mainly from April to September in the Southern Hemisphere. Experts recommend considering yearly flu shots for diabetes patients 6 months of age and over (especially for those who are over 64 years of age), are residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities, require regular medical follow-up or hospitalization, or have additional chronic heart and lung problems.

Get your pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumococcus is a bacterium which can invade the bloodstream and become a widespread deadly infection. The one-time pneumococcal vaccine can help protect against this and is therefore recommended for people with diabetes as well as those with chronic heart, lung or kidney problems.

A one-time revaccination is suggested for those over age 64 and previously immunized when they were below age 65, if the vaccine was given over 5 years ago. Revaccination may also be required in people with chronic kidney disease and other immuneimpaired states such as after organ transplantation.

Get the required shots when traveling. Before traveling abroad, ask your physician whether you would need to get immunized against certain diseases that may be prevalent at your destination.


Neglect clinical counseling. Never take regular checkups with your doctor for granted. He/she can guide you regarding what vaccines to take and inform you about the potential side effects. Reviewing your medical condition with your physician before getting vaccinated is also good practice. Tell your doctor particularly if you have had any serious reactions to medications, food or vaccines.

Ignore side effects. Side effects can occur with vaccination, depending on the vaccine. Common mild reactions could be a slight fever, rash or soreness at the site of injection. More serious problems such as severe muscle aches, nerve problems or serious allergic reactions are very rare. Signs that you may be having a severe reaction to the shot are a high fever, weakness, behavior changes, difficulty breathing, hoarseness, wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness.

Get vaccinated indiscriminately. Some people should NOT get vaccinated or consider not getting vaccinated if they:

  • Are allergic to the vaccine or its components. For example, since the flu vaccine is grown in eggs, people allergic to eggs should not get the influenza shot. People allergic to gelatin should not get MMR or varicella vaccines.
  • Have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS, a paralyzing illness), unstable seizure, brain or other nervous system disorder. Those with stable nerve disorders may usually be vaccinated.
  • Are moderately or severely ill. You should usually wait until you recover before getting vaccinated. People with mild illnesses can generally get vaccinated.

Moreover, the following should NOT be given LIVE vaccines: people with chronic heart, lung, kidney problems, diabetes, anemia or other blood disorders; people with immune sytem problems such as cancer, leukemia or AIDS; people who take steroids (e.g., prednisone), anticancer drugs or have had transplant or radiation treatments; people who have received blood transfusions, immune gamma globulin or antiviral drugs in the past year; pregnant women or women with the chance of becoming pregnant in the next month; people who have had a live vaccine in the past 4 weeks.

However, MMR vaccine is recommended and varicella vaccine should be considered for adults with CD4+ T-lymphocyte counts of greater than or equal to 200 cells/uL. Live vaccines should be delayed until after chemotherapy or steroid therapy has ended.


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