Here comes the autumn, winter and the midst of the flu season. Elderly, pregnant women and people living with chronic conditions such as diabetes are at a higher risk of getting the flu and flu-related complications.
People with diabetes are 6-times more likely to be hospitalised with flu than those without diabetes. Therefore, we asked people living with diabetes about their knowledge and attitudes towards the flu vaccine.
A survey by Diabetes Ireland of almost 900 people with diabetes showed that less than half of respondents (44%) have been recommended the flu vaccine by their healthcare professional and 21% (n=180) were not aware of the fact that the flu vaccine is available and recommended for all people with chronic conditions, including diabetes, free of charge.
Diabetes Ireland is concerned that the reason why more than half of respondents have not heard flu vaccine recommendation from their medical teams might be associated with COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that many have not seen their diabetes specialists or general practitioners for a long time. Thousands of people with diabetes are still on waiting lists for their diabetes appointments, thus the HSE recommendations might not be well heard.
“Flu vaccine can protect you from unnecessary complications and hospitalisations, and the risk of both is increased for people with diabetes. We would like to raise the awareness of the need for flu vaccine this season, and let people with diabetes know that they can avail it free of charge in pharmacies and general practice – says Dr Kate Gajewska, Research and Advocacy Manager, Diabetes Ireland. – We hope that this message will reach those who have not heard about it from their healthcare teams – she adds.
Based on the survey findings, only 5% of participants admitted they do not intend to get the flu vaccination this year. Of the reasons why, some respondents were not aware that they are considered as the ‘higher risk’ group or does not consider themselves as of a higher risk due to their ‘young age and fitness’. Some have heard of or experienced ‘bad reaction’ and do not want any other vaccine than the one against COVID-19. A few people believed the masks will protect them from the flu spread.
Most importantly, however, is that 95% of respondents are willing to take the flu jab or already got it. – We were delighted to see that the vast majority of respondents are aware of the need for the flu vaccine – admits Gajewska. Of the reasons encouraging people to be protected this flu season, some respondents highlighted their previous experience of flu, flu-related complications and hospitalisations, and don’t want it to happen again. The majority believes that taking the vaccine “is the right thing to do”. Many participants were also grateful to Diabetes Ireland for highlighting this topic and the reminder to get the flu vaccine this year.
Don’t wait for the flu to come! Call your pharmacist or GP and get your flu jab now.
For more information check the HSE recommendations for people with long-term conditions click here…
For detailed information about the flu in 2021/22 flu season see here.