Diabetes UK is urging everyone with diabetes – including those who are pregnant – to take up the offer of a free flu jab to avoid life-threatening diabetes complications winter illnesses can lead to.
Having a serious infection such as flu causes blood sugar levels to rise so high that they become dangerous, which is why people with diabetes, in particular, are at serious risk.
Even for those with a good management of their diabetes, dangerously high sugar levels can lead to acute complications of diabetes, which can often go unrecognised and could even be fatal.
The flu jab gives someone with diabetes the best chance of fighting off the flu. Without it, flu can also develop to pneumonia or bronchitis, which can often require hospital admission.
Yet, one in three under-65s with diabetes in England missed out on the vaccine last year, according to data from Public Health England.
This is despite the vaccine being one of the 15 healthcare essentials that every person with diabetes is entitled to for free through the NHS every year.
Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said: “It can take up to two weeks for a flu jab to work.
“It is essential that everyone with diabetes gets their free flu jab as soon as possible to avoid the illness and eliminate the risk of life-threatening complications as flu hits the UK this winter.”
Diabetes UK recommends that everyone with diabetes gets in touch with their GP or local community pharmacy as soon as possible to get their free flu jab and avoid the winter illness and its possible complications.
Other people eligible for the free flu vaccine are those 65 years of age or over, those that are pregnant, those living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility, and those who receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk.
Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible for the flu vaccine, but it is your employer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for the vaccine.
Flu jab is also free on the NHS for children over the age of six months with a long-term health condition, children aged 2 and 3 on August 31 2018, and children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Children aged between six months and two years are given an injected flu vaccine, whereas children aged between two and 17 are given the flu vaccine nasal spray.
For those that aren’t eligible for a free flu vaccine on the NHS can pay for it privately.
The jab is available from many pharmacies and supermarkets. While prices can vary, it tends to cost no more than £20.
You may have flu if you experience the following symptoms:
- A sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- Aching body
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- Dry, chesty cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhoea or tummy pain
- Nausea and being sick
The NHS recommends treating flu by:
- Resting and sleeping
- Keeping warm
- Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower you temperature and treat aches and pains
- Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration
Where can you get the flu vaccine? Most doctors’ surgeries offer the jab alongside some high street stores, including Boots and Asda.
For more information about diabetes and flu, please visit www.diabetes.org.uk/seasonal-flu