Associations urge flu vaccinations to prevent diabetes, CV complications
The American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association are working together to urge adults living with chronic diseases to prioritize annual influenza vaccination and to encourage health care providers to advocate for and support influenza immunization within their practices, according to a press release from the organizations.
Last season’s influenza outbreak was one of the worst in recent years, according to data from the CDC, with overall hospitalizations in 2018 topping those in 2017, along with an alarming increase in influenza-associated deaths in children and adults. National public health officials have stepped up efforts to educate Americans on the impact of influenza on chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, which puts people at higher risks for complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus infections, in addition to increasing hypoglycemia risk.
Annual influenza vaccination has been shown to mitigate these risks for patients with chronic health conditions — reducing the chance of hospitalization by 37% and reducing the risk for admission to the ICU by 82%, according to the release.
“Getting the flu can lead to complications with very serious consequences for people with cardiovascular disease, including hospitalization, increased risk for other major health events, like heart attacks or strokes, and death,” Eduardo Sanchez, MD, chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association, said in the release. “Flu vaccination is a good idea for all and has actually been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events.”
The vaccine is a protective tool against influenza and an essential health management step for people living with diabetes, heart disease and lung disease, according to the release.
“People with diabetes experience more hyperglycemic events and substantial increases in pneumonia, sepsis and coronary heart disease after being diagnosed with the flu,” Louis H. Philipson, MD, PhD, FACP, vice president of medicine and science for the ADA, said in the release. “Additionally, if an individual does get the flu, being vaccinated may help make their symptoms milder and avoid more serious consequences.”
According to the release, only 45% of adults were vaccinated during the 2018-2019 season. The associations noted that people living with lung or heart disease or diabetes should be immunized against influenza annually as part of their regular health care management.
“We are proud of our collaboration with the American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association raising awareness around the importance of flu vaccination, especially for those with chronic conditions and more vulnerable to the impacts of the flu,” Albert A. Rizzo, MD, FACP, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, said in the release. “Americans oftentimes live with one or more of these chronic medical conditions that span across our three organizations, and working together we can encourage flu vaccinations and save lives.”
The American Lung Association, the ADA and the American Heart Association offer educational resources about the burden of influenza and increased need for vaccination among people with chronic health conditions.
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.