If You Have Diabetes Get Your Flu Shot
By: Florence Jaffa, D.O.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in November that Maryland has already experienced widespread flu activity this 2019-2020 flu season.
The timing of this rise in the number of influenza cases comes prior to the peak of the flu season, which is typically from December to February.?The CDC and all healthcare professionals are urging everyone to receive the flu vaccination this year, especially those who have chronic medical conditions such as diabetes to help prevent the flu and any flu-related complications.
Individuals with diabetes are at higher risk of developing flu-related complications.?This is because diabetes can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off an infection.?Flu complications range from conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, to more serious widespread infections and even death.
Studies have demonstrated the importance of vaccinating patients with diabetes.?The influenza vaccine has been associated with a reduction in the number of hospitalizations in this group.?Additionally, a reduction in the number of serious medical events, such as stays in an intensive care unit, has been noted.
If a patient with or without diabetes happens to develop any signs or symptoms of the flu it is important that they notify their primary care provider right away so that antiviral medication can be prescribed as soon as possible.
Signs and symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The CDC recommends prompt treatment (ideally within 72 hours of symptom onset) in patients with diabetes to prevent serious, life threatening complications of the flu. There are several FDA approved antiviral medications including Tamiflu which is most commonly prescribed.
Please contact your primary care provider to schedule your flu shot appointment today, especially if you have diabetes or a chronic medical condition.
Florence Jaffa, D.O., is a family medicine physician with the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. She can be reached at 410-553-2900.