People with diabetes urged to get flu vaccine

People living in the Black Country who have type 1 or 2 diabetes are being reminded that there is a free flu vaccination with their name on it.

The influenza virus can cause serious illness and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people across the UK every year.

Being diabetic is a known risk factor for flu, which means that if you catch the virus, you are likely to be more ill than somebody who has no health conditions. That is why flu vaccination is offered free on the NHS for anybody who is living with diabetes.

There are more 90,000 people in the Black Country who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and health leaders would like to see as many as possible come forward to get protected against flu. Dr Jane Dale, Chief of Medicine at the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and consultant in diabetes and endocrinology, said:

“We are seeing increasing numbers of patients with both flu and COVID who need admission to hospital.

“Patients with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to serious complications from flu and COVID, and these infections can make diabetes harder to manage and cause blood sugar levels to rise.

“It is very important that patients with diabetes take up the offer of both the flu and COVID jabs.”

Diabetes affects the immune system, which means people with the condition are not only more likely to catch the virus, they are less able to fight it off, putting them at risk of developing complications like pneumonia.

A rise in blood sugar levels while suffering from flu can trigger other issues such as diabetic ketoacidosis, which can lead to hospital admission and take a long time to recover from.

Before Christmas, around 40% of all those in the Black Country with an eligible long-term health condition had received their free flu vaccination, meaning there are thousands more who can still come forward during January.

Flu is in circulation throughout the winter months, so it is never too late to take up the offer of vaccination, even if you have previously declined and have changed your mind.

The vaccine is safe and effective and is designed to help protect those who are most at risk from developing complications from the virus. Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said:

“We are seeing a rapid spread of flu this winter and every day our local hospitals are treating people who are extremely poorly with the virus, so it’s vital that people do all they can to protect themselves – especially if they are at higher risk.

“As well as protecting you from this potentially lethal virus, getting vaccinated also helps the NHS, which is facing significant pressures in the very busy winter season.

“People with diabetes may not all be aware that they are entitled to a free flu vaccination on the NHS, especially if they are younger and their condition is well managed, but we offer it to everybody who has diabetes and I would urge anyone who is eligible to take up this offer."

You can get your flu vaccine from your local GP practice, community pharmacy or at one of our mobile vaccination clinics.

You may be contacted by your GP practice to book an appointment, or you can book your vaccination at a local pharmacy via the National Booking System.


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