Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Coronavirus Q&A

Should I take the vaccine when it’s offered to me?

Question from Tajelsir

We strongly encourage everyone living with diabetes to get the vaccine when it’s offered. This is because people with diabetes can become severely ill if they get coronavirus. The best way to protect against the virus is to be vaccinated. 

When will I be offered the vaccine? 

Question from Stefani

The UK Government have now offered everyone in priority groups one to four a vaccination appointment. If you think you are in one of these priority groups and you haven’t received an invitation, you can now book an appointment online.

You are in priority groups one to four if any of the following apply:

  • You live or work in an elderly care home.
  • You are aged 65 or over.
  • You have received a letter saying you’re clinically extremely vulnerable.
  • You are an eligible frontline healthcare worker.
  • You are an eligible frontline social care worker.

In England, people in priority groups five and six are now being invited to receive their vaccinations. This includes people aged 16-65 who live with diabetes. You should receive a letter inviting you to an appointment.

In Scotland, the published vaccine roll-out plans suggest that people living with diabetes can expect to be invited to receive a vaccination between March and early May.

In Wales, people in priority group six should receive an invitation for a vaccination appointment by the end of April.

In Northern Ireland, people who live with diabetes should expect to be invited to a vaccination appointment by the end of March.

If I have diabetes, will I be added to the shielding list?

Question from David

Another 1.7 million people have recently been added to the shielding list and are now classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. This is because the UK Government has adopted a new approach to predicting the risk a person has from becoming seriously unwell if they catch coronavirus. This involves a new tool called QCovid Population Risk Assessment. It takes into account lots of different risk factors including whether someone has an underlying health condition like diabetes.

This means that some people with diabetes will have been added to the shielding list because it’s a risk factor that the tool recognises. But not everyone with diabetes needs to shield. If you receive a shielding letter and you’re worried, give our helpline a call on 0345 123 2399.

Should I ask for a specific vaccine because I have diabetes?

Question from Noel

It’s not possible to request a specific vaccination. They are all safe for people with diabetes. If you have any concerns about the specific vaccine you’re offered you can talk it through with staff at the vaccination centre.

As someone with diabetes, what sort of side effects should I expect? 

Question from Kathleen

Not everyone who has the vaccination will experience side effects. Most side effects are very mild and don’t last more than a few days. Common side effects include:

  • Feeling tired.
  • Headaches.
  • A sore arm where you had your vaccine.
  • Feeling sick.

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

Will the vaccine affect my blood sugars?

Question from Karen

The vaccine might make your blood sugars go up. That’s because when you get it, your body will produce an immune response. This is quite safe and nothing to worry about – it’s just your body responding to the vaccine because you haven’t experienced it before.

To make sure your body has enough energy to produce the immune response, it might release some extra glucose (sugar). This is what leads to your blood sugar increasing. You may need to take extra medication to manage if your blood sugar becomes too high, so it is important to know your sick day rules.

Will the jab protect me against new strains of the virus?

Question from Michelle

It’s normal for viruses to pick up small changes over time as they’re passed on from person to person. This has been happening with coronavirus since it started spreading across the world and it does not necessarily make a virus more dangerous.  

Current vaccines were designed around earlier variants, but scientists believe they should still work against the new ones, although perhaps not quite as well.  

There’s evidence that coronavirus vaccines work well against the new UK variant, which makes up most of the UK’s cases.

Some cases of a variant first found in South Africa have also been discovered in the UK, but this variant isn’t as common. From studies so far scientists think that vaccines will still protect against serious illness from this variant, but that they might not work quite as well.  

Early results from lab tests suggest the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine both protect against the UK and South African variants.

A regularly mutating virus could mean that we need annual vaccines – just like what happens with the flu jab – and scientists are already working on updating coronavirus vaccines so that they give better protection against new variants. Researchers have said a vaccine designed to tackle the South African variant could be ready by the Autumn if needed.  

I don’t want to have the vaccine, can I choose not to?

Question from Chris

No one will be forced to have the vaccine. However, if you have diabetes we strongly recommend you have the vaccine when it’s offered.

 

Find out more about the coronavirus vaccines and diabetes

 

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