Study backs giving flu vaccine to working-age adults with diabetes

January 24, 2014

All people with diabetes should receive influenza vaccination, according to guidelines in most high-income countries, but there has been little evidence to back this policy. However, a new study in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) suggests that working age adults with diabetes are at an increased risk of influenza compared with people without diabetes, affirming the need to target people with diabetes for influenza vaccination. The study is by the team led by Dr Jeffrey A. Johnson, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

The American Diabetes Association and the Canadian Diabetes Association, as well as national vaccination authorities in Canada and the UK, all recommend vaccinating people with diabetes against influenza. In the United States, influenza vaccinations are recommended for all , although priority continues to be placed on those with diabetes. Since separate recommendations already exist for vaccination in all elderly ( > 65 years) adults, the additional effect of guidelines calling for vaccinations in is to add working age (age ≥18 and <65 years) adults with diabetes as a high-risk group relative to those without diabetes.

The authors discuss how previous studies to assess the risk of influenza in adults with diabetes have had various methodological problems, so their aim was to do a new study to provide evidence on the recommendation to give the influenza vaccine to adults with diabetes.

The study used data from Manitoba, Canada, from 2000 to 2008. All working age adults with diabetes were identified and matched with up to two non-diabetic controls. The rates of physician visits and hospitalisations for influenza-like illness, hospitalisations for pneumonia and influenza, and all-cause hospitalisations were analysed. The study included 163,202 people, mean age 52.5 years, of whom just under half (48.5%) were women. The data showed that adults with diabetes had more co-morbidities and received influenza vaccination more often than those without diabetes. After adjusting for these differences, adults with diabetes had a 6% greater increase in all-cause hospitalisations associated with influenza compared to adults without diabetes. This translates to a total additional burden of 54 hospitalisations across Manitoba in working age adults due to their diabetes. No statistically significant differences were detected in influenza-attributable rates of the other outcomes, i.e.: influenza-like illness or pneumonia and influenza.

The authors say that the even if vaccination effectiveness were as low as 20%, it could be cost-effective to vaccinate adults with diabetes to avoid the costs of hospitalisation with influenza. However they add that the individual situation in different countries could vary depending on local practices and costs.

The authors say: "Our observation that working age adults with diabetes experience a greater burden of influenza than similar non-diabetic adults provides a clinical justification for targeted anti-influenza interventions; identifying particular interventions and evaluating their effectiveness in this population are questions for further research."

They conclude: "Vaccination guidelines indirectly single out working age adults with diabetes for routine vaccination. We have demonstrated an increased burden of influenza in this population. Randomised trials are needed to confirm actual vaccination effectiveness in this group. Formal economic studies are also required, to ascertain the extent to which identifying as a high-risk indication for vaccination may mitigate the use of healthcare resources and costs associated with influenza. Until such studies are available, our work represents the strongest current evidence highlighting the burden of , and the potential benefits of , in diabetic adults."

Related Stories

CDC says more people with asthma getting flu shots

December 6, 2013

(HealthDay)—Influenza vaccination has increased substantially among people with asthma since the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) expanded recommendations for annual vaccinations, though all age groups ...

Recommended for you

Promising progress for new treatment of type 1 diabetes

July 30, 2015

New research from Uppsala University shows promising progress in the use of anti-inflammatory cytokine for treatment of type 1 diabetes. The study, published in the open access journal Scientific Reports, reveals that administration ...

Bacteria may cause type 2 diabetes

June 1, 2015

Bacteria and viruses have an obvious role in causing infectious diseases, but microbes have also been identified as the surprising cause of other illnesses, including cervical cancer (Human papilloma virus) and stomach ulcers ...

'Crosstalk' gives clues to diabetes

June 15, 2015

Sometimes, listening in on a conversation can tell you a lot. For Mark Huising, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior at the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, that crosstalk ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nik_kelly_54
not rated yet Jan 24, 2014
IMHO, unless you have genuine medical reason to NOT get Seasonal 'Flu or Decadal Pneumonia vaccinations, have both and stack the odds in your favour.

Downside is you'll end up shopping for a bunch of neighbours and visiting kin who didn't bother...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.