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The importance of vaccinating diabetics

Diabetologia (2014) doi:10.1007/s00125-013-3158-8

Until now, evidence supported vaccinating working-age adults with diabetes against influenza has been scant, despite guidelines advocating immunisation. However, new research confirms that this group of patients is especially susceptible to serious illnesses caused by influenza.

Canadian researchers analysed data for 56,513 adults aged less than 65 years with diabetes, each of whom was matched to two non-diabetic controls (n=110,202). The median age was 51 and 50 years in people with diabetes and controls respectively.

Compared to controls, people with diabetes were 26% more likely to be hospitalised for pneumonia and influenza, and 13% more likely to develop an influenza-like illness and 6% more likely to need all-cause hospitalisation. The increases in influenza-like illness and hospitalisation for pneumonia and influenza did not reach statistical significance.

However, the increase in all-cause hospitalisations was statistically significant. Influenza accounted for 98% of all-cause admissions among adults with diabetes.

The authors commented that their 'findings represented the strongest available evidence for targeting diabetes as an indication for influenza vaccination, irrespective of age'.

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