Newswise — The leaves are turning, there’s a chill in the air and that means it’s time for your annual flu shot. If you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s time to reconsider, especially if you have diabetes. Flu can be more serious than you realize, and health officials say there are early signs that this flu season will be a bad one.

Many people with diabetes don’t get the flu vaccine, according to a recent study. Why? Most thought they weren’t at risk for complications, or they feared adverse reactions from the shot, according to the research. Despite these myths, people with diabetes are actually at higher risk for complications if they get the flu. And the influenza vaccination is safe, effective and lessens complications if you do get the flu.

The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) strongly encourages everyone with diabetes to get the flu shot.

“Reducing risks is one of the AADE’s seven key self-care behaviors for managing diabetes, and getting the flu shot every fall is an excellent way of reducing the risk of getting sick,” said Evan Sisson, PharmD, MHA, CDE, FAADE. “It’s widely available, it takes just a few minutes and it can make a real difference in your health.”

Here’s why you need a yearly flu shot:

  • Better diabetes management: Illnesses such as the flu can increase your blood glucose levels, as well as interfere with healthy eating goals. Getting a flu shot can reduce your risk of getting the flu, helping you stay healthier and better able to manage your diabetes.
  • Flu can make you sicker: People with diabetes are at higher risk for complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, which is why they are six times more likely to be hospitalized. They are also more likely to die from the flu.
  • You’re 65 or older:
    • Older people are more likely to catch the flu because the immune system weakens with age, and diabetes further weakens it.
    • If you get the flu, the complications are more likely to be serious. Nine out of 10 flu-related deaths and six out of 10 flu-related hospital stays occur in people 65 and older.

If you’re 65 or older, ask your doctor whether you should get the regular flu shot or a high-dose vaccine that is formulated to help older and weaker immune systems fight the flu.

You can also help reduce your risk of getting the flu or other illnesses by washing your hands frequently. If you do get the flu, call your doctor right away and ask about antiviral drugs that can shorten the illness.

About the American Association of Diabetes Educators 

AADE is a multi-disciplinary professional membership organization dedicated to improving diabetes care through innovative education, management and support. With more than 14,000 professional members including nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, exercise specialists, and others, AADE has a vast network of practitioners working with people who have, are affected by or are at risk for diabetes. Learn more at, or visit us on Facebook (American Association of Diabetes Educators), Twitter (@AADEdiabetes) and Instagram (@AADEdiabetes).