What You Need to Know – Diabetes Daily

What You Need to Know – Diabetes Daily

It’s that time of year again: cold and flu season. And while people with diabetes are always encouraged to get their seasonal flu shots, this year is even more important, due to the looming COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and hospital beds being at near-capacity, and uncertainty as we head into the winter months. So, what exactly is the flu shot, and should you definitely get one? This article will explain what the flu shot is, the pros and cons of getting one, and what makes this year different.What Is the Flu Shot?The influenza vaccine, or the “flu shot” for short is a type of vaccine that protects against the influenza virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu shot, which comes in both inactive and weakened forms of the viral load, provides protection by causing the body to develop antibodies to the virus in question after about two weeks of receiving a dose of the vaccine. These antibodies provide protection against influenza. Recent studies show that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of illness by between 40-60%.The CDC recommends that everyone older than 6 months of age, especially those with underlying health conditions like diabetes, receive an annual flu shot.The seasonal flu vaccine protects against strains of the influenza virus that are predicted to be the most common in a given year; new vaccines are actually created twice a year because the influenza virus changes so rapidly.What Are the Pros and Cons of Getting a Flu Shot?Influenza can be a dangerous virus that affects people living with diabetes even more severely. People who have diabetes can have trouble fighting off infections, and a bad case of the flu could not only land a person in the emergency room with dehydration and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), but people with diabetes are three times more likely to die and six times more likely to be hospitalized from influenza if medical assistance is not sought at the first onset of severe symptoms.It is estimated that over 60,000 people in the United States die each year from the flu. Getting a flu shot not only helps protect someone from contracting the virus, but also makes the virus less severe if they do contract it, and it cuts down on the duration of the virus as well, helping to prevent hospitalizations, unmanageable high blood sugars, dire health consequences, and helps to get people back on their feet more quickly.Simply put, getting a flu vaccine is one’s best defense against the seasonal flu.On the other hand, there are some people who should not receive a flu shot, and they include:Anyone younger than 6 months oldPeople with severe, life-threatening allergies to the ingredients in the flu vaccine, including gelatin or antibiotics. There are special considerations for people who are severely allergic to eggsSome unpleasant side effects of the flu shot may include:Pain, swelling or burning at the injection siteFeverHeadacheTirednessNauseaA rare but serious side effect has been reported in people who have received the flu vaccine. Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a neurologic condition that causes weakness and paralysis in the body, and the flu vaccine has triggered this condition in a small number of people. Call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of GBS shortly after receiving the flu vaccine.Infectious disease physician Beth Thielen, MD, Ph.D. says, “There is so much misinformation out there regarding vaccines. We can’t emphasize it enough: the risk of a vaccine is minor compared to the risk posed by the flu.” Vaccines are safe and effective.What Makes This Year Different?Getting a flu shot this year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, can be risky, as numbers are on the rise during this second wave spike, and getting a flu shot necessitates leaving quarantine and visiting a medical clinic to be seen in person.If you do get the flu shot, you may be exposed to the COVID-19 virus, but scientists and the medical profession agree that guarding yourself against the flu is the best way to prevent an unnecessary trip to the hospital, which would also put you at risk of contracting COVID-19. Medical clinics and hospitals are taking extra precautions to make sure patients are not exposed to COVID-19 when coming in to receive their flu vaccines.This year, since influenza and COVID-19 are spreading at the same time, it’s “exponentially” more important to get your flu shot, according to M. Health Fairview Pediatrician Paula Brito, MD.Getting the flu vaccine might reduce your risk of getting a more severe case of COVID-19, and it can also help physicians and hospitals in the fight against COVID-19, by keeping a much-needed and coveted hospital bed open.Charles Chiu, MD, Ph.D., an infectious disease doctor at UC San Francisco, says, “So the worry is that with the onset of the flu season, you’re going to get peaks of flu and COVID-19 cases at the same time. Even with a mild flu season, the convergence with a COVID-19 surge could very rapidly overwhelm our hospital system.”The Bottom LineUltimately, whether or not you get the flu vaccine is a personal decision that should be made considering and weighing all of the benefits and risks after a discussion with your physician. Every person and family’s situation is different, and the choice is up to you.Until there’s a viable, easily accessible COVID-19 vaccine, please stay vigilant. Stay home as much as possible, wash your hands often, do not gather in groups of people who don’t live in your household with you, and wear a mask when you go out in public. One last thing that can keep you healthy and safe is getting the flu vaccine.Since influenza and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses, they primarily affect your lungs. It is possible to get both at the same time, putting people (especially those with diabetes) at much higher risk of life-threatening complications.“If you have the flu and then get COVID-19 – or vice versa – we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Paula Brito, MD, said. “Your body is already fighting a viral disease and now has to fight another different virus. If you can prevent having the flu by taking the vaccine, why not?”The flu is a potentially dangerous seasonal virus. In people with diabetes, underlying health conditions, and other chronic conditions, the flu can lead to severe complications and death. The flu vaccine is a safe, easy, and affordable way of helping to prevent the flu. The side effects of getting the flu shot are typically mild, and the risks are few.Getting the flu shot, especially this upcoming flu season, is important not only for your health and well-being against the influenza virus but also to help mitigate the potential for a serious illness related to COVID-19. Post Views: 4Read more about flu shot, influenza (flu), vaccination.

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