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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 do get coronavirus, and coronavirus vaccines are the most effective way to prevent that from happening.

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If you are 16 or over and live in England, you can book an appointment online to receive your coronavirus vaccines or call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. You can also find a walk-in coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site.

Find out more about who can get coronavirus vaccines.

If you have diabetes, we strongly encourage you to get the coronavirus vaccine and take whichever vaccine you're offered. This is because people with diabetes are vulnerable to developing a severe illness if they do get coronavirus, and vaccines are the most effective way to prevent that from happening.

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.

Booster vaccines

The booster vaccination programme has been extended for all people aged 18 and over.

  • Those eligible will only be able to book an appointment for a booster dose if it's been at least 3 months since their second dose of the vaccine.
  • The booster will be offered to adults in groups of descending age order, with priority given to older adults and those over 16 in groups identified as being at higher risk, including people with diabetes
  • People who are eligible for this will be contacted by the NHS when they are due for their booster appointment. Please wait to be contacted before booking a booster dose.
  • Severely immunosuppressed people will be offered another booster which for some people will be their fourth dose.

The NHS is currently working on plans to deliver these changes to the booster vaccine programme. If you are in England and aged 16 or over and living with diabetes or another condition that puts you at higher risk, or for all aged 18 and over and received your second vaccine three months ago or longer, booking can be done online: book your COVID-19 booster vaccine appointment

Your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your first and second doses. Most people will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine. 

From 21st March 2022, an additional COVID-19 booster jab is being offered to

  • people aged 75 years and over,
  • residents in care homes, and
  • children aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed

from around six months after their last dose. They, or their parents or carers, will be contacted by the NHS when it is their turn.

Who can get coronavirus vaccines

Anyone aged 16 or over can get the coronavirus vaccine and rollout of the vaccine to all children over 12 has begun.

We would strongly advise all people with diabetes aged 12 and over to get your coronavirus vaccines.

All people aged 16 and over and live in England, including those with diabetes, can book an appointment online to receive your vaccine or call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. You can also find a walk-in coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination site.

If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, or are a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can use textphone 18001 119 or the NHS 119 BSL interpreter service.

There are differences in how England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are rolling out the vaccine. If you feel that you should be invited to get your vaccine but haven’t yet, speak to your GP and talk it through with them.

You can find more guidance about who should get coronavirus vaccines and when from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI).

“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.

Children

All children and young people over 12 are now eligible for coronavirus vaccines and are being offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

  • 16 to 17-year-olds can book an appointment online or call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week to book your vaccine.
  • 12 to 15-year olds are also now being offered the vaccine.

Parents and guardians will get a letter with information about when the vaccine will be offered and will need to give their consent. Most children will be given their vaccine at school.

  • All 12-15 year olds are being offered two doses 12 weeks apart. Second doses are being offered in schools from 10 January 2022.

The vaccination programme has been extended to children aged between 5 and 11 who are clinically most at risk of COVID-19 or live with someone who is immunosuppressed. Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, epilepsy and other conditions as outlined in the UK Health Security Agency's Green Book. You will be contacted by the NHS when it is your child's turn.

  • All eligible 5-11 year olds will be offered two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer vaccine eight weeks apart – a third of the amount used for adult vaccinations.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine that has been authorised for children in the UK, for those aged 5 and above.

For more information on the Government's latest advice, read the JVCI statement on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17 years published 19 July.

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.

Read the Government's advice on COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for all women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding.

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 focussed 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 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 sick.

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

Vaccines and blood sugar levels

Taking the vaccine may make your blood sugar levels go up.

When you get the vaccine, your body will start to produce what’s called an immune response. This is nothing to worry about. Your body is just reacting to the vaccine because the vaccine is new to you.

Your body needs energy to produce this immune response, so it may release some extra glucose (sugar). This is what leads to your blood sugar increasing.

Find out more about managing high blood sugars.

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.

COVID-19 booster and the flu jab

Some people may be eligible for both the COVID-19 booster vaccine and the annual flu jab. Public Health England (PHE) have said that there aren’t any safety concerns around having both the booster vaccine and the flu jab on the same day (although you are advised to have them in different arms).

If you don't have both jabs on the same day, you may need to wait up to 7 days between your flu jab and having your booster vaccine.

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.

Taking part in a coronavirus vaccine trial

The coronavirus vaccines we have are thanks to the many volunteers who have taken part in the clinical trials. But volunteers are still needed for more trials.

If you’re interested in taking part, you can sign up to the NHS’s coronavirus vaccine registry to be contacted about taking part in approved vaccine studies in the UK.

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