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Stay Safe During Flu Season: Get Your Flu Shot And Your COVID-19 Booster

Published: 11/5/21
By Andrew BriskinArvind Sommi

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic through the fall and winter, it is especially important for you to get both your seasonal flu shot and the COVID-19 booster shot to reduce your chances of getting sick – particularly if you have diabetes. 

Diabetes can have a significant effect on your body’s ability to recover from the flu and COVID-19 (or any illness for that matter). Certain complications resulting from diabetes can potentially weaken your immune system such as heart disease, kidney disease, or chronic hyperglycemia.

Additionally, the stress that your body is under when fighting an infection like the flu can make it difficult to keep your glucose values in range. If you do become ill, learn how to manage your diabetes and have a sick day plan on hand, see here.

What is the best way to protect yourself and others this season? Get your flu shot! 

According to the CDC, the annual vaccine is one of our best preventive measures against illness, hospitalization, and death caused by the flu. The vaccine can also reduce the severity of flu symptoms and reduce the risk of serious health consequences in those who do catch the flu. 

The harm caused by the seasonal flu is often overlooked. In the 2019-2020 season, there were an estimated 35 million cases of flu, leading to 380,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths. In that same year, about 52% of the population got a flu vaccine, which is estimated to have prevented 7.5 million illnesses, 105,000 hospitalizations, and 6,300 deaths. 

This past year, in part due to the precautions taken to protect people from COVID-19, such as social distancing and mask wearing, there were record low numbers of flu cases. However, as restrictions have eased across the country, it is even more important that you receive your flu vaccine this year.

While the most common time to receive the flu vaccine is in September and October, peak flu season usually occurs between December and February, with flu activity sometimes lasting until May. The flu vaccine provides protection starting around two weeks after you receive it, with protection lasting about six months. 

There are several kinds of flu vaccines that people can receive.

  • Flu shots (injected using a needle) are recommended for people with diabetes. There are different flu shots available, with some being approved for people of specific ages.

  • The nasal spray vaccine is generally not recommended for people with diabetes.

  • Flu vaccine by jet injector (rather than needle) is approved for people between the ages of 18 and 64.

Talk with your healthcare team about your flu vaccine options to determine which is best for you. Vaccines are available either through your healthcare provider or from a local pharmacy, and most insurance plans in the US will cover the cost. Check out this resource to locate a clinic or other facilities that offer the flu vaccine near you. 

In addition to your flu shot, you might want to consider getting the COVID-19 booster shot if you are eligible as well. 

The CDC recommends receiving the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 booster shots if you are 65 or older, or an adult who lives in a long term care facility, have underlying medical conditions, or works/lives in a high risk setting such as a school. For any adult who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC recommends everyone receive either a Pfizer or Moderna booster shot if you were vaccinated at least two months ago. You should plan to get your booster shot at least 6 months after your second COVID shot.

Additionally, the CDC now allows you to mix and match your vaccines, so you can get the Pfizer or Moderna booster shot regardless of which vaccine you first received. These booster shots can help you maintain your protection against serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. To learn more about how COVID impacts people with diabetes, read our article, “COVID-19 – Latest News on the Delta Variant, Booster Shots, and Mask Mandates.”

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About the authors

Andrew Briskin joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2021 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Health and Societies . Briskin is an Editor for diaTribe Learn.... Read the full bio »
Arvind Sommi joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2021 after graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Biology . Sommi is a Managing Editor for diaTribe Learn. Arvind... Read the full bio »