All people with diabetes, including those who are pregnant, should be vaccinated against influenza (flu) regardless of the type of diabetes management. This is because people with diabetes are more at risk of potentially serious complications of flu infections such as pneumonia. Elevated blood glucose levels, as a response to infection, can increase the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or Hyperglycaemic Hyperosmolar State (HHS), either of which can be potentially fatal if left untreated.
The flu virus changes or mutates, which is why every year a vaccine is produced based on the strains of the virus expected to be circulating. The flu vaccine is not 'live' and cannot give a person the flu, but because immunity can take about two weeks to become effective, some people may develop the illness after being vaccinated if they are already incubating the virus in their system.
- Vaccination should be postponed for people with a feverish illness or infection, and avoided for those who have experienced serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccination in the past
- People who have an egg allergy may be at increased risk of reaction to flu vaccination because some flu vaccines are made using eggs. There are low-egg and egg-free flu vaccines which may be considered.
The flu jab is one of the15 Healthcare Essentials– the essential checks and services that every person with diabetes deserves and should expect.
After any vaccination you may find that you experience side-effects. These happen as the body makes antibodies to the disease and are natural. They will usually settle after a few days. If your temperature goes up, take a painkiller (e.g. paracetamol) and drink plenty of sugar-free drinks. Your glucose control may be affected and you may find you are running higher than normal. This will usually settle as your body returns to normal.