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nutrition and diabetes

Tim       Zambo

P.E. teacher recovering from a stroke.

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One of the "Standards of Care for diabetes" includes getting a flu vaccine!

Syringe standing upright.

Don't skip your seasonal flu shot!

A seasonal influenza vaccine provides the best protection available from the seasonal flu. Winter is generally considered peak flu season, with most outbreaks occurring in January and February. But sometimes flu cases can occur as early as October-November or as late as April. Vaccination can lessen illness severity of flu-related complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections.

The flu vaccination is particularly important for people at high risk for serious flu-related complications and for close contacts or caregivers of high-risk people. Some of the people who are at higher risk for complications from influenza include people with asthma or other lung disease, diabetes, HIV or Aids, sickle cell disease, heart disease, cancer, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old. People with diabetes, even when well-managed, are at increased risk of severe disease and complications, like hospitalization and even death, as a result of getting the flu. This is because diabetes can make the immune system less able to fight severe influenza disease.

In addition, illness can raise your blood glucose level. Illness can also affect appetite and usual meal planning, which can cause blood glucose fluctuations. Testing your blood sugar every 4 to 6 hours, while ill, is very important. The CDC recommends that people with diabetes, who are 6 months and older, get a flu vaccine. The nasal spray vaccine should not be given to people with diabetes.

A flu vaccine injection cannot cause flu illness. The viruses contained in flu vaccines are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the flu injection during the process of making the vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe. Flu symptoms include:  chills,  fever of over 100° F , a sore throat, dry cough and headaches, as well as an achy feeling in your legs and back.

Possible side effects of the flu vaccine include: soreness, redness, or swelling where the injection was given which usually lasts less than 2 days. The soreness is often caused by a person’s immune system making protective antibodies to the killed viruses in the vaccine. These antibodies are what allow the body to fight against flu. According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), rare symptoms include fever, muscle pain, and feelings of discomfort or weakness. If these problems occur, they are very uncommon and usually begin soon after the injection and last 1-2 days.

The intradermal flu injection  may cause other additional mild side effects including: toughness and itching where the injection was given. If these problems occur, they begin soon after the injection and usually last one to two daysLife-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat or dizziness. If they do occur, it is within a few minutes to a few hours after the injection. These reactions are more likely to occur among persons with a severe allergy to eggs, because the viruses used in the influenza vaccine are grown in hens’ eggs. People who have had a severe reaction to eggs or a flu vaccine in the past should not get a flu injection until checking with your healthcare provider.

There are several reasons why someone might get flu-like symptoms even after they have been vaccinated against the flu:

  1. People may be exposed to an influenza virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect them.
  2. People may become ill from other (non-flu) viruses that circulate during the flu season, which can also cause flu-like symptoms (such as rhinovirus).
  3. A person may be exposed to an influenza virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different influenza viruses that circulate every year. The flu vaccine protects against the 3 viruses that research suggests will be most common for the season. Unfortunately, some people can remain unprotected from flu despite getting the vaccine. This is more likely to occur among people that have weakened immune systems. However, even among people with weakened immune systems, the flu vaccine can still help prevent influenza complications.

People with diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing pneumonia from the flu, therefore a pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine is also recommended. Flu vaccinations ae available at a variety of locations: most retail pharmacies, public health departments, some urgent care centers, some “walk-in” care clinics, your physician’s office, and some churches and civic groups. St. Anthony’s Urgent Care Centers in Arnold, Big Bend, Fenton and Lemayare offering flu vaccinations for a $30 fee and a $5 discount coupon will be available beginning October 1st. For the Urgent Care locations, hours of operation and to check on the coupon availability, click here. go to For more influenza and vaccine information, go to www.cdc.gov/flu.

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