Flu Shot May Help Diabetes Patients Avoid Hospitalization, Death

Aine Cryts
Published Online: Saturday, July 30th, 2016
Patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) who get the flu shot may have a reduced risk for hospitalization related to cardiovascular or respiratory issues, recent research suggests.

Researchers from the Imperial College London analyzed 7 years’ worth of flu-season data on nearly 125,000 patients with T2D seen in primary care clinic. They found that individuals who received the flu shot were 30% less likely to be admitted to the hospital for stroke, 22% less likely to be admitted for heart failure, and 15% less likely to be admitted for pneumonia or influenza than their unvaccinated counterparts.

Patients who received the flu shot also had a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

To better understand the effect of the flu vaccine on a patient’s risk for hospitalization, the researchers controlled for patients’ age, weight, smoking status, and gender. Also important to the researchers was whether or not patients had been diagnosed with or were taking prescriptions for other long-term chronic conditions, such as heart disease and asthma.

Previous research has shown that individuals at high risk of serious flu complications include young children; pregnant women; patients with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease; and those 65 years and older.

“The potential impact of influenza vaccine to reduce serious illness and death highlight the importance to renew efforts to ensure that people with diabetes receive the flu vaccine every year,” lead study author Eszter Vamos, a public health researcher at Imperial College London, told Reuters Health.

The researchers noted that one study limitation is that those who opt to get the flu shot may be healthier overall, meaning they already had a reduced risk for hospitalization or death.

Causation notwithstanding, the best protection for those with chronic conditions is preventing the flu in the first place.

Nurse practitioners and retail clinicians should remind every patient at every visit about the importance of the flu shot.

The findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal


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