Would you tolerate a little pain to prevent a potentially fatal disease? I’m referring to the temporary discomfort that may be felt from getting a vaccine. The topic of vaccination many times leads to heated discussions between those who are pro-vaccine and those who are anti-vaccine. The purpose of this article is to provide basic information on vaccines and simplify recommendations from professional organizations.
Over 200 years have passed since physician, Edward Jenner, created the first successful vaccine, the smallpox vaccine. The smallpox disease had the ominous reputation for being one of the “…deadliest diseases known to humans, and to date (2016) is the only human disease to have been eradicated by vaccination.” 1
What is a Vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines vaccine as, “A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease.”2
Vaccines are made with a form of the virus or bacteria that causes disease. 3 The virus or bacteria used to develop a vaccine is either killed or weakened to the extent that it will not cause disease. 4
Once a vaccine has been administered (typically by injection), the immune system produces antibodies that will fight against the antigen (i.e. virus or bacteria), leading to immunity and protection from disease. 4
Who Regulates Vaccines?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. “Before a vaccine is approved by the FDA for public use, results of studies on safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are evaluated by highly trained FDA scientists and doctors.” 9
Vaccines and Diabetes
According to the CDC, “Each year thousands of adults in the United States get sick from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines.” 5
Having diabetes can reduce the immunes systems ability to fight infection. As a result, there may be a greater risk for more “serious complications from an illness compared to people without diabetes.” 5
“Individuals with diabetes are six times more likely to be hospitalized and three times more likely to die from complications of influenza or pneumonia than those in the general population.” 6
Illness of any kind places stress on the body that can wreak havoc on blood sugar control. Stress causes an increased production of counter-regulatory hormones that increase glucose production and increase insulin resistance. Both of which contribute to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
The American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes (2017) advise the following in regards to vaccines:
- “Provide routine vaccinations for children and adults with diabetes according to age-related recommendations.”
- “The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends influenza (flu) and pneumococcal vaccines for individuals with diabetes.” 7
What Vaccines do Adults Need? 5
- Influenza vaccine (flu)
- Pneumococcal vaccines
- 1 or 2 doses (65 years or older)
- Hepatitis B vaccine series
- 3 doses
- Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
- Tdap once and Td every 10 years
- Zoster vaccine (shingles)
- 1 dose (60 years or older)
It is important to speak with your health care provider about vaccines as there may be other vaccines recommended for you based on your medical background.
For a complete vaccine schedule please refer to the following link.
Does insurance cover vaccines?
- Recommended vaccines are covered by most health insurance plans. It is best to contact your insurer directly for more detailed information.
- If you have Medicare, coverage of vaccines falls under Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D.
What if you don’t have health insurance?
- Contact your local health department. Often times, vaccines are provided for free or at a reduced cost.
Where to go for vaccines?
- Doctor’s office
- Community health clinic
- Health department
To find a vaccine location, please refer to the following link.