Diabetes Forecast

CDC: H1N1 Vaccine Is Vital for People With Diabetes

By Tracey Neithercott ,

It's been six months since H1N1 influenza first emerged, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is stressing the importance of vaccination for people with diabetes. According to the agency's new estimates, people with diabetes account for 12 percent of all hospitalizations due to H1N1, also called swine flu. Plus, 1 in 4 hospitalized patients with diabetes requires intensive care.

People with diabetes have an increased risk of illness from any flu, and being sick can cause blood glucose levels to soar or plummet. "This can be a very severe illness in people with diabetes," Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, told reporters last week. "Certainly we recommend people with diabetes get vaccinated with [the] H1N1 influenza vaccine."

Schuchat recommends an H1N1 shot (not nasal spray) and pneumonia vaccine for people with diabetes. Those with a fever, cough, or other flu-like symptoms should head to the doctor for an antiviral medication like Tamiflu.

The CDC also released updated statistics on the swine flu pandemic. According to Schuchat, an estimated 22 million people were made ill by H1N1 in the period from April through Oct. 17. The CDC estimates that 3,900 people, including 540 children, died from the flu.

The new numbers represent a nationwide estimate that the CDC believes is more accurate than previously reported figures, which were much lower. The analysis takes into account inaccurate test results and possible undiagnosed cases of the flu—not just those that were tested and confirmed.

Schuchat believes that while the current virus doesn't match the severity of the 1918 flu pandemic, Americans aren't in the clear yet. "We have a long flu season ahead of us," she said.



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