Why You Should Get A Flu Shot

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As fall comes around I hear people debating, “Should I get the flu shot?”, “Should I vaccinate my kids?”.  I’m always surprised to hear just how hesitant people are to vaccinate.

The flu is a highly infectious and serious viral respiratory infection. Many viruses can give you the sniffles, but allow you to continue working or going to school.  The flu, however, actually knocks you out, and flu symptoms can be quite severe and prolonged.  In addition, bacterial infections (superinfections) can occur on top of the flu infection– those are situations which can truly overwhelm the lungs.  Such a situation is especially dangerous for the elderly and the very young.  It can even cause death.

People’s main concern with the influenza vaccine tends to be that the injection will actually give them the flu.  This is not true.   While the vaccine can cause soreness or redness at the site of the shot, pains in the joints, and even mild fever, it is nothing like the flu itself.  A good excuse not to get vaccinated is if you have an egg allergy, in which case the vaccine is contraindicated, since the vaccine is developed in eggs.

Many people don’t get the flu vaccine, and they are okay.  People with diabetes, however, shouldn’t take a chance.  Most people with diabetes are not aware that for them, the flu can pose a much bigger threat than it does for people without diabetes.

When blood sugar levels are elevated,  especially above 200mg/dL, the immune cells do not work as efficiently and therefore patients with diabetes may have abnormalities in immune function. Studies have shown that diabetics are sick longer with the flu, have a higher chance of ending up in the hospital, and even an increased risk of death.  This is particularly true for patients who have diabetes complications, such as heart disease or kidney disease.

Also, once the patient gets the flu, the body is stressed, and it becomes much more difficult to control blood sugar levels. Often patients need to increase their insulin doses, or if they are not on insulin they might need to increase their medication or temporarily be on insulin in order to keep blood sugar controlled. People with diabetes also have a higher tendency to get dehydrated.

Fortunately there is sufficient evidence to show that people with diabetes generally have appropriate  immune responses to the  influenza vaccination.  Getting the vaccination is effective in reducing complications of influenza, reducing hospital admissions during influenza epidemics, and even in decreasing the number of deaths.

The influenza virus is smart.  It mutates slightly every year, and for us to keep up, a new vaccine must be manufactured annually.  We have the tools to prevent influenza.  We just have to make sure that the millions of people with diabetes are educated about the risks that influenza poses and encourage them to get a flu shot.  It should be a matter of routine every fall.

 

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LeslieMichelle SRobert ScheinmanSridhar Chilimuri Recent comment authors
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Leslie
Leslie

You can have allergic reactions to the Flu shot and not have an egg allergy.  Many people in my family have had bad reactions to the flu shot and none had/have egg allergies.  We choose not to take the chance of our kids including our Diabetic child. My mother had never had a flu shot until she was in her 30’s (totally healthy) she has no allergies to eggs, and ended up on antibiotics for 2 months because she broke out into hives all over her body.  My oldest child is almost 8yrs old none of us have ever had… Read more »

Michelle S
Michelle S

Robert, I am not just concerned with the adverse reactions reported.  Here in Canada, it is very difficult to even find out all the toxic substances contained in flu vaccines.. and we are injecting them directly into ourselves and our children.  that is different than breathing or eating toxins, and yet we try to avoid doing that. The problems that could be associated with this would not even be seen as linked to vaccines. My kids get all their regular childhood vaccines because I believe the good they do for society outweighs the bad.  I don’t believe the same is… Read more »

Robert Scheinman

My wife and I just got our flu shots. For us it was a no-brainer. Both she and I have had the flu in the past. It is not simply a cold. it is 10 days or more of feeling like you are going to die followed by weeks of congestion and aches. The principle of vaccination is actually quite simple. By exposing your immune system to killed or weakened virus, you create a small army of T cells ready to do battle if something that looks like the virus reappears. In response to Michelle above, I was inspired to… Read more »

Michelle S
Michelle S

I have to respectfully disagree with your first paragraph… i don’t see why it is surprising that people hesitate.  The flu is dangerous, but vaccines have an effect on our systems too. Those with autoimmune diseases may be adversely affected.  And because the flu mutates, sometimes the vaccine does not protect us from that season’s most common strains of the flu anyway.   what I find surprising is that people are not more focused on prevention.  I have never had a doctor recommend probiotics, but since I started using them for myself and my children, we have hardly been sick.… Read more »

Sridhar Chilimuri
Sridhar Chilimuri

It is always fun to read your stuff -you convinced me – I will get my flu shot tomorrow

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