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Coronavirus vaccines and diabetes

Coronavirus Covid-19 vaccine

If you have diabetes, we strongly encourage you to get your coronavirus vaccines. This is because people with diabetes are vulnerable to developing a severe illness if they get coronavirus (Covid-19), and coronavirus vaccines are the most effective way to prevent that from happening. 

On this page:

Need advice about the vaccine in another language? Watch videos of healthcare professionals from across the NHS share information in other languages, including Bengali, Cantonese and Urdu.

Vaccines are the safest, most effective way of protecting you from coronavirus and flu, and if you or a loved one is living with diabetes, it’s so important to check if you’re due a Covid booster or a flu jab. Not only do these vaccines offer individual protection, they also help protect those around us, so making sure you and your loved ones are up to date with your jabs will help everyone to stay safe.

Who can get coronavirus vaccines 

Primary doses of the vaccine are currently only available for children aged 6 months to 4 years who are at increased risk of being seriously affected by Covid-19. This includes children with diabetes. 

Those not in the above at-risk group are no longer able to receive a first or second dose. 

Stay up to date with the latest rules in your area: 

If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes 

If you have developed a new condition, including diabetes, you may need an additional vaccine before your booster. 

You can discuss this with your diabetes team who will assess if and when an additional vaccine dose is needed.  

Young children and infants  

For the vast majority of children, coronavirus causes mild symptoms or sometimes no symptoms. But for a small group of children with health conditions, it can lead to more serious illness. Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect against this.   

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding 

Your healthcare team should talk you through the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. We strongly encourage you to get the vaccines if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Find out more about the government's advice on Covid-19 vaccinations: a guide for all women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) also has guidance on coronavirus vaccines in pregnancy.

Covid booster jabs

Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the Department of Health & Social Care have confirmed that people living with diabetes are not eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in spring 2024.  

The vaccine will only be available for those who have a weakened immune system, aged six months or older. This guidance is in line with last year’s spring booster programme, although the eligible age has been lowered from five years to six months for the spring 2024 programme.

You may still be eligible for the vaccine if you currently live with another condition or are undergoing treatment that has weakened your immune system. You can see further details from JCVI’s statement.   

All people living with diabetes aged over six months were eligible for a winter vaccine in 2023 due to the increased risk of infection over the winter period. The winter vaccination programme ended on 31 January 2024. 

You should still have some protection against coronavirus from previous doses. If you're unsure about this or have questions about getting the jab, speak to your GP or healthcare team.

This advice for spring 2024 will apply across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The relevant health services for all four nations will each separately determine how and when eligible people can access the vaccine.     

Find out more about the groups eligible for the jab from the NHS website.  

How do I get the coronavirus vaccine?

Getting your vaccines depends on where you live. Some people may be able to book it themselves, but others will need to wait to be invited. Get more information on your local NHS website:

In England it is only possible to book your Covid vaccines through local NHS vaccination services, like pharmacies or walk-in sites.

If you’re confused about what vaccines you’re entitled to or have any questions, speak to your healthcare team or call our free helpline on 0345 123 2399. 

“Getting the phone call from the GP to say it was my turn for the vaccine was a relief for me and my family. Now I’ve had it, I feel safer and less worried in general. Apart from a bit of a sore arm for a few hours later, I felt good and lucky to have been given some protection."
- Sarita has diabetes and just had her coronavirus vaccine.

Are the vaccines safe? 

We know that some people may still be worried about how quickly the coronavirus vaccines were developed. But this was possible because scientists, governments and industry all around the world focused their attention on this one shared goal. 

All the vaccine trials included the usual number of participants and no stages of development and testing were rushed or skipped. The joint worldwide effort to find a vaccine allowed for funding and approval processes to be fast-tracked, and manufacturing to begin early. This, alongside using existing technologies in the vaccine development, is why they were developed more quickly than usual. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will also continue to monitor the vaccines over time and make sure vaccinations follow a very high standard. And it’s also useful to know that the vaccines have been tested in men and women of different ages and ethnicities, with a range of health conditions – including diabetes. 

There’s no evidence to suggest that the vaccine will work less well in people with diabetes. 

Vaccine side effects

Not everyone taking the vaccine will have side effects. If you do have any, they are usually very mild. They normally won’t last longer than around 48 hours. 

The common side effects are: 

  • a sore arm where you had your vaccine 
  • feeling tired 
  • headaches 
  • aches 
  • feeling or being sick. 

If you don’t feel well, it’s really important that you stick to any sick day rules recommended by your diabetes team. If you are concerned about symptoms, contact your healthcare team. 

Vaccines and blood sugar levels 

Taking the vaccine could have an effect on your blood sugar levels, some people have reported them going up or down.  

When you get the vaccine, your body will start to produce what’s called an immune response. This may include your body releasing some extra glucose from its stores. This is nothing to worry about. Your body is just reacting to the vaccine because the vaccine is new to you. 

Find out more about managing high blood sugars

Some people report significant hypos we are not sure why this is, but the advice for anyone having a vaccine is to test blood sugars more often. 

If you’ve had an allergic reaction to vaccines 

If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food before, it’s safe to have any of the coronavirus vaccines unless you’re allergic to the specific vaccine ingredients. 

Your GP will talk this through with you if you have a history of allergic reactions and monitor you for about 15 minutes after the jab. Speak to your healthcare team if you’re worried about this or have more questions about your previous reactions. 

What the vaccines are made of 

The coronavirus vaccines do not contain meat, egg or any animal products. The vaccines are halal and kosher. 

There’s a very small amount of alcohol in some of the vaccines, around the same as there is in bread. We call this negligible, because it won’t have any effect on your body. The vaccines are still halal because the alcohol in them is at a concentration of much less than 1%. The alcohol is there to preserve the vaccine ingredients, to make sure it works. 

The vaccines contain the blueprints for making tiny fragments of coronavirus. This triggers the immune system to react and start making antibodies that are ready to protect you if you later catch coronavirus. 

Vaccines also contain other ingredients which are added to keep them stable and help them work better. Common ingredients in the coronavirus vaccines include sucrose (a type of sugar) and salt. These are added in extremely small quantities and won’t have any effect on the body. 

You can find out more about the different types of vaccines and full information on vaccine ingredients in the patient information leaflet for the vaccine when you are offered one. 

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