Back to Diabetes Basics Flu Shots

Many people overlook the need for a flu shots, especially for their children. This doesn't mean that all children should get flu shots, but since children with diabetes are in one of the high risk groups, you should seriously consider flu vaccination. While flu symptoms are usually mild to moderate in most people, it can be more severe in the elderly or very young children. Like any illness, the flu can seriously disturb diabetes control, not uncommonly leading to prolonged hyperglycemia and DKA [diabetic ketoacidosis]. Conversely, uncontrolled diabetes can make the immune system more vulnerable to severe cases of "the flu" (influenza). Everybody with diabetes, of any age, should get this cheap and easy protection.

Sometimes, a few days after the vaccine, you can develop some mild flu-like symptoms that don't lead to the serious complications seen with a full-blown flu infection when no vaccine is given. Thes mild symptoms, however, may increase blood sugars and may temporarily increase insulin requirements slightly for a few days.

This year, flu vaccine is recommended for children over the age of six months. The first time they are vaccinated, children under the age of nine need two doses, at least a month apart in order to get a good response. Older and previously vaccinated only need a single annual injection.

The vaccine itself is an inactivated or killed vaccine and is changed each year to keep up with the most common strains of the influenza virus that are circulating and most likely to cause infections. Side effects are usually mild, usually only last for 1-2 days, and the 'split virus' vaccine is associated with fewer side effects than the 'whole virus' variety.

Flu vaccines are available at little or no cost at doctors' offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores, and local health departments. Please talk with your healthcare team before flu season is upon us.

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Last updated August 26, 2004

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