Patients living with diabetes are being urged by health leaders from across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to get the flu jab this winter as their illness makes them more at risk from complications such as pneumonia.
The three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the area, West Leicestershire CCG, East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG and Leicester City CCG have come together to raise awareness around World Diabetes Day, that diabetes patients are at risk from the flu.
Those with diabetes (types 1 and 2) have a hard time fighting flu if it’s caught. The virus can put added stress on the body affecting blood sugar levels. Even those that manage their diabetes well can be at risk of serious complications from flu resulting in hospitalisation, and in some cases it can be fatal.
World Diabetes Day (14 November 2015), which is a day focused on raising awareness of diabetes, and educating those living with diabetes on taking care of their health, is a timely reminder to sufferers to protect themselves this winter. Those with diabetes receive the flu jab for free as one of the groups considered most at risk from the flu.
In 2014, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK grew to more than 3.2 million. This is the biggest increase in a single year since 2008. It’s likely we all know someone with diabetes who we want to be safe and well over winter.
Dr Nick Willmott, a GP in Hinckley and clinical lead at West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, speaking on behalf of the three CCGs, said: “If you have diabetes then it’s vital that you get the flu vaccination. Catching the flu can make your diabetes worse because it means that your immune system has a harder job fighting infections. This can make it more difficult to control your blood sugars, causing them to rise or fall and increases the chance of serious complications, such as pneumonia.
“Even if you’ve been vaccinated before you need to get the vaccination again every year. This is because the virus can change, and your previous vaccinations might not offer you the right protection.
“If you are worried about the vaccine causing flu, we want to reassure people that this is not possible, as there is no live virus in the vaccine to cause flu. Each year there is an average of around 8,000 new cases so it’s important to take care of your health and not put yourself at risk. The flu jab can take up to two weeks to take effect, so please don’t delay and contact your local GP practice to get your free jab.”
Patients in West Leicestershire with diabetes can learn more about their condition on an innovative new website, which aims to educate diabetes patients on how to manage their condition and continue to live a full and active life. The “Sound Doctor” websites contains videos, podcasts and more to offer you the practical help and advice patients need – at their own convenience. The site is subscription only, so patients should ask their GP for a free referral.