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My son is 14 years old. He is a recently diagnosed diabetic. We are getting conflicting advice if he should get a flu shot. Please give your advice and explanation. Thank you.

It's a general recommendation that almost all people with diabetes (kids, teens, and adults) get flu shots every autumn. Although it's getting late in the season, it's probably worthwhile to still get the shot, to avoid any chance of problems if there's a late Winter epidemic.

The shots need to be given every year, since there's new mutations of the flu virus that must be included in the vaccine, and since the duration of protection of a shot is less than a year.

Any medical professional could explain the very few exceptions to the general recommendation of giving flu shots to people with diabetes. The exceptions might include pregnant women, or people with unusual diseases coexisting with diabetes, and unusual prescription medications for other diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes its recommendations annually in a journal called the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). In 1995, the review was "Prevention and Control of Influenza: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)" in Volume 44, (No. RR-3). Your primary care physician and your Diabetes Team can get reprints of these articles through the local hospital's library or on the Internet at the link shown above. The relevant quotation regarding diabetics is:


To maximize protection of high-risk persons, they and their close contacts should be targeted for organized vaccination programs.

Groups at Increased Risk for Influenza-Related Complications:

  • Persons >=65 years of age
  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities that house persons of any age with chronic medical conditions
  • Adults and children with chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including children with asthma
  • Adults and children who have required regular medical follow-up or hospitalization during the preceding year because of chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes mellitus), renal dysfunction, hemoglobinopathies, or immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications)
  • Children and teenagers (6 months–18 years of age) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and therefore might be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after influenza

To read the MMWR documents, you need a copy of Adobe Acrobat.

Fred Schuld (, reader of children with DIABETES, writes:

I have a son who is 19 and who has Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed about 2 years ago. He has taken a flu shot last year and this year. This has likely been very helpful since he has not had the flu since, and prior to this usually had it once a year at least. I would recommend this, in response to a question asked. People with diabetes suffer a lot if they get the flu, in being able to eat and balance their diet, particularly.

Original posting 30 Nov 95


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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