Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what we should and shouldn’t be doing, where we should and shouldn’t be going, who we should and shouldn’t be seeing. So should people with diabetes leave their homes to see their doctor to get an early flu vaccination?
In a word, yes.
Every year the advice for people living with diabetes is to get the flu vaccination. This year that advice hasn’t changed and, in fact, it is now more important than ever to make that appointment.
People with diabetes may be at an increased risk of developing serious complications if they get the flu. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are just some examples of the complications, and some of these could land you in hospital. In fact, if you have diabetes and contract the flu, you are three times more likely to end up in hospital compared to someone without diabetes.
Beyond the above complications, the flu also makes your diabetes much more difficult to manage. It can play havoc with blood glucose levels (BGLs), sending them much higher – or lower – than you might expect. The high BGLs that often come with illness also make it difficult for the body’s immune system to fight off other infections that may be going around.
If you want to protect yourself against COVID-19, getting vaccinated against the flu is one step you can take to make sure your immune system is at full strength should you come into contact with the virus.
To ensure you are best protected against the flu, you need to get your flu vaccination before the flu season starts. Essentially – now. And not just you – the flu is a highly contagious virus, so it would be advisable for everyone that you live with to have the vaccination as well.
If you have diabetes, you are eligible for a free vaccination. Others in your household or family that may also be eligible for a free vaccination include:
- people aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
- primary school aged children (pre-primary to year 6)
- people 65 years and older
- Aboriginal people 6 months and older
- people with medical conditions that put them at risk of severe influenza (this includes heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, impaired immunity)
- people with chronic illnesses that required medical attention or hospitalisation in the past year
- children aged 6 months to 10 years receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
Please note, while the cost of the vaccine is free, there may be a cost associated with the consultation. You can check this by calling your healthcare provider before your vaccination appointment.
It is also recommended you call beforehand so you are aware of the current appointment process.
For additional information see WA Department of Health: Influenza vaccine.