People with diabetes should receive flu shots

People with diabetes should receive flu shots Influenza, or the "flu," can especially deadly for those with diabetes, says a state health official. People with diabetes are more likely to die from complications of the flu and in fact, deaths among people with diabetes increase 5 to 15 percent during flu epidemics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The good news is that people with diabetes can greatly reduce their chances of getting the flu by receiving a flu shot, says Julie Gotham, diabetes control coordinator for the Department of Health.

"People with diabetes may not know that their disease can make their immune system more vulnerable to complications of the flu," said Gotham. "A flu shot is an easy, safe, preventive measure that people with diabetes should take to protect themselves from the risks associated with the flu."

There is no risk of getting the flu from a flu shot since the shot does not contain live virus. "Getting a flu shot is essential preventative care for people with diabetes. It's also a good idea for their family members since it can not only protect them from the flu, but also keep them from passing the flu along to their loved ones," said Gotham. "Flu shots are a good idea for everyone, but people should check with their doctor before getting this or any other vaccination."

According to the CDC, people with diabetes:

* Are three times more likely to die from complications of influenza and pneumonia than people without diabetes;

* Face high mortality when additional risk factors exist, especially cardiovascular disease and age over 65;

* Are at increased risk for hospitalization from flu-related pneumonia.

An estimated 40,000 people in South Dakota have diabetes, one-third of them undiagnosed. As many as 226,819 South Dakotans have at least three of the risk factors for diabetes over 45, overweight, family history of diabetes, history of diabetes during pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle, or high blood pressure. Ethnic groups with a higher risk of diabetes include Native Americans, Latino/Hispanics, African Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

For more information, people with diabetes and their families can contact the Department of Health Diabetes Control Program at 1-800-738-2301 or visit its web site at Persons may contact their physician and the Clay County Community Health Nurse at 677-6767 for a flu shot.

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