In an interview with Vaccines Today, Anne Felton, President of the Foundation of European Nurses in Diabetes (FEND), said people with diabetes need to keep control of their blood glucose levels but catching the flu can lead to serious complications.
“It’s about reducing the risk of infections which can give rise to disruption in blood glucose control. Where this risk can be reduced by vaccination it is very much for the good of people with diabetes,” she said.
Felton says people with diabetes and other chronic conditions are a high priority for annual flu vaccine campaigns and nurses can play a key role in getting that message to the public.
“If people with diabetes are very adversely affected by influenza it can lead to hospitalisation and complications. Throughout Europe there is ease of access to flu vaccines. There is a very important role for primary care in targeting those patients who are known to have diabetes or even those at risk – for example woman at risk of gestational diabetes,” she said.
Unless there is an unusual medical reason not to be vaccinated, Felton says that people of all ages that have diabetes should keep up to date with their immunisations. “It is very much part of the guidelines on the management of diabetes in most countries.”
However, not everyone is aware of the importance of vaccinating people with chronic conditions, perhaps underestimating the impact they can have. “These infectious diseases are actually quite serious. If the at-risk population is not vaccinated against communicable diseases where vaccinations are available it would be detrimental,” says Felton.
Nurses should be advocating for vaccination when treating diabetes patients and incorporating discussion of immunisation status into patients’ medical history, she says.
Felton is a also Member of the Connecting Nurses Steering Committee – a global network of nurses which shares best practice around the world. The network addresses a broad range of health issues but immunisation is among their priorities: “It is very much on the agenda and we want to ensure that immunisation policy is embedded in guidelines for the treatment of chronic conditions.”