News of the Center

By Sharon Orrange, MD, MHS, FACP

We hear a lot about vaccination shots for children, but it turns out that adults also need immunizations. People with diabetes need to pay special attention to being up-to-date because they are more likely to be infected and get complications from the flu and pneumonia. The CDC recommends that adults with diabetes should be current with five different types of vaccinations.

The most important vaccination is the annual flu shot. Since the flu virus changes from year to year it is good to get into the ritual of getting a shot in September or October. Getting a bad case of the flu can lead to a lung infection called pneumonia.

To protect against the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia, you should receive the vaccines against the pneumococcal infection that causes pneumonia. You can do this based on age. Everyone with diabetes between 19 and 64 should have the PCV13/Prevnar 13 vaccination, those who are 65 and older should have both the PCV13 and the PPSV23/Pneumovax shots. The two type of vaccinations should be taken a year apart. If you are 65 and older and don't have the pneumococcal vaccination yet, start with the PCV13 and follow it a year later with the PPSV23.

Diabetes patients also have a higher risk of getting hepatitis B due to their exposure to needles and blood. Vaccination can prevent the potential liver disease and liver cancer that can result from contracting HEP B. Vaccination for HEP B is recommended for people with diabetes who are under age 60.

There is a new, highly effective vaccine against the painful shingles for people 50 and over. The brand name is Shingrix and it requires two doses 6-months apart. Lastly there is the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) shot to protect again whooping cough. This protects both the adult and prevents the transmission to younger children.

Taking these preventative steps can help prevent the complications dealing with your diabetes during sick days and it may seem like a lot of shots, but only the flu shot is needed every year and the other are spread out over your long adult life.

Many of these vaccinations are available in the clinic as well as your primary care office. The flu and other shots are also widely available at pharmacies. Not every primary care physician is current on the vaccination needs of people with diabetes and it is hard for your diabetes doc to cover all of your diabetes concerns is a normal visit, so it is good for patients to keep a vaccination record and ask for your recommended vaccinations. For more information visit:

Vaccinations for Adults With Diabetes