Why It's Smart to Get a Flu Shot if You Have Diabetes

On the fence about getting a flu shot this season? If you have type 2 diabetes, here’s a convincing reason for getting the vaccine: A study of 12,503 adults with that condition found that those who received a yearly influenza vaccination were less likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure than patients who didn’t get the vaccine.

In the study, published July 2016 in the journal CMAJ, British researchers tracked patients’ medical history and vaccination status over seven years. Getting the vaccination was associated with a 19 percent decreased risk of being hospitalized for a heart attack, 30 percent for a stroke, 22 percent for heart failure, and 15 percent for the flu or pneumonia. Overall, people who opted for the shot had a 24 percent lower death rate than people who skipped it.

While the influenza vaccine’s protective effects against cardiovascular events in all adult populations are already well known, the researchers say this is the first study to show the effectiveness of the vaccine in people with diabetes. These findings come on the heels of a study earlier this year that suggested the vaccination lowered the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder.

For the best protection, get your flu shot in mid-October or November. Flu epidemics usually begin in January or February, and it takes a few weeks to develop immunity.