Diabetes and Vaccines

A lot has been written about vaccine safety in recent years, and much of it has been based on false information and bad research. If you have diabetes and are wondering about whether you should receive vaccines, the answer is “Yes!” Your London Drugs pharmacists can help you sort out the facts from the falsehoods and figure out which vaccines you should get.

Why get vaccinated?

Diabetes, even if it is well managed, can make it more difficult for your immune system to fight infections, and that can put you at risk for more serious complications than someone without diabetes would be likely to experience from the same disease. For example, pneumonia (a lung infection) and meningitis (an infection of the brain and spinal cord) may lead to very serious complications and can even be fatal in people who have diabetes. Fortunately, there are vaccines that can help prevent these infections.

People with diabetes are also more likely to get some diseases—such as hepatitis B—than the general public, and some illnesses—such as influenza (the flu)—can raise blood glucose (blood sugar) to levels that are dangerously high.

Don’t assume that because you have diabetes that you shouldn’t get vaccinated. Discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist. Not getting vaccinated can put you at risk of more serious problems than the occasional minor side effects vaccines may cause.

What vaccines should people with diabetes get?

Your healthcare providers are in the best position to explain which vaccinations you should have and why, but there are some general guidelines. The Canadian Immunization Guide recommends that people with diabetes get routine immunizations with the following vaccines:

  • diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • hepatitis B
  • herpes zoster
  • human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • influenza
  • measles-mumps-rubella
  • meningococcal conjugate quadrivalent
  • pertussis
  • pneumococcal conjugate 13-valent (children)
  • pneumococcal polysaccharide 23-valent (adults and children 2 years of age and older)
  • polio (inactivated)
  • rotavirus
  • tetanus
  • varicella (univalent)

Other vaccines may also be appropriate for some people. You should discuss your personal situation with a healthcare professional to determine if any additional vaccines would help protect your health.

Additionally, anyone travelling outside Canada may require other vaccines related to their travel plans. Your London Drugs travel health pharmacists can help you plan for any travel-related vaccines (such as hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies) that you may need.

Some of the drugs that may be used to treat diseases such as the flu and pneumonia may be less effective than they used to be, making it more important than ever to prevent the diseases. In addition to helping prevent pneumonia, the pneumococcal vaccine also protects against bloodstream infections and meningitis caused by pneumococcal bacteria.

Because the flu virus changes every year, the shot you get one year isn’t likely to protect you the following year, so getting a shot at the beginning of each flu season is recommended.

London Drugs certified injection pharmacists are available to answer your questions about vaccines and to provide any vaccinations you need conveniently, right in the pharmacy. If you have any questions, please ask us.

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