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Diabetes and flu a risky combination – get immunised

News Item

posted by Research Admin 1 on 10 April 2019



News release, Diabetes NZ, 2 April, 2019

Even if your diabetes is well managed, you are at higher risk of complications if you catch influenza (flu).  

If you have diabetes you are three times more likely to be hospitalised and three times more likely to die from the flu and its complications than other people.

Flu infection can lead to higher blood sugar levels, say health experts. If you have diabetes you are eligible for a free flu shot from a doctor or nurse. 

Immunisation is also especially important for people 65 years and over, pregnant women and young children who are at a higher risk of complications when they get flu.

Free flu shots are available for adults and children six months and older between April and December 31 each year. However, autumn is the best time to get your annual flu shot so you're protected before flu season strikes.

To better match circulating viruses, the two funded flu vaccines will contain four inactivated virus strains, specially formulated for the New Zealand 2019 season.

Flu can be anywhere, so you can easily catch it. Even if your diabetes condition is well managed, being fit will not always protect you from flu.

Influenza is not the same as a cold. It’s a serious disease that can also make other existing conditions, such as diabetes, even worse.

 Immunisation is the best protection against influenza.  Even if you still catch the flu after immunisation, your symptoms are less likely to be severe.

 What’s more, having a flu shot every year can keep people 65 and over healthy and active for longer.

The natural decline in immunity associated with aging can increase an older person’s vulnerability to both the risk of infectious disease and serious complications.

Older people have lower physiological reserves to aid a return to pre-illness function.

Research shows that you can infect others with the flu virus even when you’re not showing symptoms yourself. So, if you’re caring for someone with diabetes, you can help avoid passing the virus on to them by being immunised.  

The influenza vaccine is a prescription medicine. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about the benefits and possible risks. And, if you’re 65 and over, ask if you’re also eligible for free shingles immunisation (

Check out to find out whether you qualify for free flu vaccination or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).