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Take Charge of Your Diabetes

If you have diabetes, take extra care to keep up-to-date on your vaccinations (also called immunizations). Vaccines can prevent illnesses that can be very serious for people with diabetes. This section talks about some vaccines you need to know about.

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Influenza Vaccine

Influenza (often called the flu) is not just a bad cold. It’s a serious illness that can lead to pneumonia and even death. The flu spreads when influenza viruses pass from one person to the nose or throat of others. Signs of the flu may include sudden high fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, runny nose, dry cough, and headache.

Image of a man in a hospital bed.The flu is a serious illness that can put you in the hospital. A yearly flu shot can help prevent this.


People with diabetes who come down with the flu may become very sick and may even have to go to a hospital. If you get the flu, you’ll need to take special care of yourself (see Taking Care of Yourself When You're Sick).

You can help keep yourself from getting the flu by getting a flu shot every year. Everyone with diabetes—even pregnant women—should get a yearly flu shot. The best time to get one is between October and mid-November, before the flu season begins. This vaccine is fully covered under Medicare Part B.

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Pneumococcal Vaccine

Pneumococcal disease is a major source of illness and death. It can cause serious infections of the lungs (pneumonia), the blood (bacteremia), and the covering of the brain (meningitis). Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (often called PPV) can help prevent this disease.

PPV can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine—or at any time of the year. Most people only have to take PPV once in their life. Ask your health care provider whether you might need a second vaccination. This vaccine is fully covered under Medicare Part B.

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Tetanus/Diphtheria (Td) Toxoid

Tetanus (or lockjaw) and diphtheria are serious diseases. Tetanus is caused by a germ that enters the body through a cut or wound. Diphtheria spreads when germs pass from one person to the nose or throat of others.

You can help prevent tetanus and diphtheria with a combined shot called Td toxoid. Most people get Td toxoid as part of their routine childhood vaccinations, but all adults need a Td booster shot every 10 years. Other vaccines may be given at the same time as Td toxoid.

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Other Vaccines

You may need vaccines to protect you against other illnesses. Ask your health care provider if you need any of these:

  • Measles/Mumps/RubeImage of a hand on a phone receiver.lla vaccine.
  • Hepatitis A and B vaccines.
  • Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine.
  • Polio vaccine.
  • Vaccines for travel to other countries.

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How to Get More Information

Call the immunization program in your state health department to find out where you can get vaccinations in your area. Keep your vaccination records up-to-date so you and your health care provider will know what vaccines you may need. You can record this information on the record sheets.

For more information on vaccination, call the CDC National Immunization Hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (English and Spanish). This is a toll-free call.

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