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From New York, New York, USA:

Should young children with diabetes get a dose of pneumonia vaccine when they receive their annual flu shot in October?

Our endocrinologist said he recommends such a double shot for children under 7 years old. Do you concur? What are the risks, if any?

By way of background my son is 5, he has had diabetes for over 3 years, and he had a bout with pneumonia last spring. That bout is what precipitated me to ask the doctor about the pneumonia shot.

Please respond as promptly as possible, since the vaccine season is just about here. Thank you.


At the present time "flu shots" (against pneumonia caused by the influenza virus) and "pneumonia" shots (I assume you mean a vaccine against the bacteria "streptococcus pneumonia") are recommended for "high risk individuals."

The flu shot is recommended for people with diabetes as they are susceptible to high blood sugars if they catch any virus and if they do get the "flu" they are more susceptible to getting pneumonia caused by the bacteria staphylococcus aureus. It is quite possible that in the next few years the flu vaccine will be recommended to all individuals, not just "high risk" individuals.

The pneumococcal vaccine is usually recommended to individuals without a spleen or at increased risk for infections by the bacteria streptococcal pneumonia. I am not aware of any specific recommendation to give this vaccine to children with diabetes without other risk factors. Again there is no real reason why this vaccine isn't given to everyone except that the cost of vaccinating the general public is high and most individuals are not at "high risk."

Pneumonia can be caused by many different bacterias and viruses. The bacteria "streptococcus pneumonia" can cause infections in many places in the body in addition to the lungs (pneumonia). Only your child's physician can advise you whether your child should get this vaccine.


Original posting 20 Sep 97


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