The NHS is urging people with diabetes to have the flu jab to help protect themselves from the serious complications the illness can have.
Flu vaccination campaigns have begun in GP surgeries across the UK and those with diabetes are deemed as part of a high-risk group, which means they get the jab free on the NHS.
People with diabetes are approximately six times more likely to die if they develop flu when compared with individuals who have no other underlying health condition. However, having other conditions, in addition to diabetes, can increase the risk even further.
The groups listed below are all at particular risk of dying from flu:
Chronic liver disease – 48 times the risk
Chronic kidney disease – 19 times the risk
Chronic heart disease – 11 times the risk
Pregnant women – 11 times the risk
Diabetes – 6 times the risk
Having the flu can upset the management of diabetes and cause blood glucose levels to fluctuate, even if the person with diabetes usually controls their condition well and leads an otherwise healthy life.
The consequences of having the flu can be serious and the virus remains highly unpredictable. Not having the vaccination means people with diabetes may be less able to fight off the infection and could contract further complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
The Department of Health recommends those eligible should be given the flu vaccination as soon as it becomes available so that people are protected when flu begins to circulate. This usually means most vaccinations are completed before the end of December.
People should contact their GP surgery for information about individual flu vaccination campaigns in their area.