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Diabetics Need Flu Vaccines

November 30, 2009, 5:01 PM by Kelli Grant

Diabetics Need Flu Vaccines
If you have diabetes, you're six times more likely to be hospitalized by influenza than a person with no underlying condition.

It's partly because the flu can make it difficult for diabetics to keep blood sugar levels in check. And that's one of the reasons they're more likely to die from flu complications.

John Sproat knows how important it is to get his flu shot every year.

"I don't want to get sick. I've gotten the flu in the past. It's horrible," said Sproat.

He's a diabetic which means his body has a harder time fighting off infection and makes him more susceptible to severe cases.

"It is critical that a diabetic get both vaccines," said Dr. Stanley Mirsky from Lenox Hill Hospital.

The biggest problem for diabetics is keeping blood glucose levels under control. Feeling tired from the flu can mask low and high blood sugar levels.

"They should make sure that they're checking their blood sugar four times a day," said Mirsky.

People with diabetes make up 12% of hospitalizations in the H1N1 flu outbreak. And Diabetics should call the doctor immediately if they come down with flu symptoms.

Anti-viral medications, like tamiflu, can be a lifesaver, but diabetics should stay away from over the counter flu remedies that contain sugar because they can trigger complications.

"It's just much easier to get the shot and get it over with," said Sproat.

But the challenge for many - finding available vaccine.

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