Important Vaccines for People with Diabetes

The CDC advises that people with diabetes get certain vaccines. Vaccines help your body's immune system learn how to protect itself against bacteria or viruses to prevent infection. People with diabetes should get a flu shot each fall. They should also get a pneumococcal vaccine. This helps protect against pneumonia.  It's also important to get a hepatitis B vaccine, which protects against a liver infection. Also key are the Tdap and zoster vaccines. Learn why it's so important for people with diabetes to have these shots. And learn the best times to get them.

Flu shot

The flu is an infection caused by a virus. The virus spreads when a person coughs or sneezes. Flu symptoms may include a sudden high fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, dry cough, and headache. But people with diabetes who catch the flu may get sicker than people who don't have the disease. The illness sometimes leads to pneumonia. Or to a dangerously high blood sugar level. In some cases, you may need to be in the hospital.

The best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get the flu vaccine. This won't give you full protection. But it makes it less likely that you will have the flu for about the next 6 months. You need a new flu shot each year. The CDC advises getting flu shots in September or October with vaccines continuing even in January or later if the flu viruses are still circulating. Check with your healthcare provider to see what vaccination schedule is advised for you. It helps if the people you live with get flu shots, too.

Pneumonia shot

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial illness. It can cause serious–even deadly–infections of the lungs (pneumonia), blood (bacteremia), and covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Having diabetes raises your risk for serious problems and death from these illnesses.

There are 2 pneumococcal vaccines. Talk with your healthcare provider about these 2 important vaccines. Find out when you should get them.

Hepatitis B shots

The vaccine for hepatitis B is advised for people younger than age 60. It is also suggested for those ages 60 and older. It's given in a series of 3 shots over 6 months. You need all 3 shots to be immune. You may have had some of the hepatitis B vaccine series in the past, but not all 3 shots. Then you only need to have the other shots. You don't need to start over.

Tdap shot

This vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. All people should get this vaccine at least every 10 years.

Zoster shots

This vaccine, often given as 2 injections, gives protection against the virus that causes shingles. The shingles vaccine is very important if you have had nerve damage (neuropathy).

Talk with your healthcare provider

Before you get any of these vaccines, talk with your healthcare provider. They can help you get vaccines at the right times. This helps make sure you're fully protected.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2021
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