Diabetes and Swine Flu

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I just got my seasonal flu shot today (they’re available at Walgreens for $24.99) and as I watched the pharmacist plunge a surprisingly long needle into my upper arm — it’s intra-muscular, baby! — it occurred to me that it might be useful to post some information on flu vaccines and diabetes.

First off, an important distinction: the seasonal flu shot  (the type I just got) is NOT effective against the H1N1 virus, which is more commonly known as swine flu.  However, you should still get it. It provides protection against a hodgepodge of other strains of flu that experts predict will be around this year, and is a good idea for everyone, regardless of their level of pancreatic malfunction. (And anyone who’s been sick with diabetes knows that controlling your blood sugar while you’re fighting the flu is not a fun way to spend a weekend.)  Important note on the seasonal shot: it takes 2 weeks for your body to build up immunity after you receive the vaccine, so get it soon. And once you get it, you should be good for about a year — just in time to get the next version.

Next up, H1N1, the much dreaded and anticipated swine flu. No one really knows what’s going to happen when flu season hits in earnest — after all, flu pandemics usually hit in waves, with the second (and sometimes third) much stronger than the first. So it’s good to be prepared. Luckily, there’s supposed to be a vaccine available in the next couple weeks, and Type 1 diabetics — along with pregnant women, young people (ages 6 months to 24 years old), health care providers and emergency medical services personnel — are among those who are supposed to be given priority.

Right now health clinics are getting bombarded by phone calls asking about the vaccine — which is a waste of time, since it’s not yet available. But stay tuned — the CDC has a website devoted to the vaccine, and once it’s been released, it’s a good idea to get it. I mean hey, we’re talking about diabetics here. What’s one more shot?

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