Diabetes increases risk for certain infectious diseases. Thankfully, vaccines are currently available that can decrease the risk of severe complications and hospitalizations due to certain infectious diseases. As such, immunizations are of particular importance to this group of patients. It is currently recommended that patients with diabetes receive two such vaccinations: the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.
- Influenza Vaccine – This relatively common vaccine should be administered annually to all diabetic patients who are at least 6 months of age. The rationale for the vaccine is that diabetic patients can have greater consequences from infection: greater hyperglycemia and greater risk for complicating bacterial pneumonia.
- Pneumococcal Vaccine – Each adult patient with diabetes should receive one lifetime dose of this vaccine. Under certain circumstances patients may need to be revaccinated once. These circumstances include patients with nephrotic syndrome, chronic renal disease, or post-transplantation. In addition, diabetic patients age 65 or older should also be revaccinated if they received their initial vaccination more than five years ago.
Many patients are reluctant to receive immunizations due to a fear of experiencing side effects or because they fail to see any direct benefit. However, every opportunity should be taken to educate diabetic patients on the importance of vaccinations in order to optimize their care.