Campaigns by the CDC to improve influenza vaccination uptake in the most vulnerable populations appear to be working, at least with patients who have a diabetes diagnosis.

A feature in the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report showed that, in 2017, adults with a diagnosis of diabetes were more likely to have had an influenza vaccination in the past 12 months than those with a diagnosis of prediabetes—62.5% versus 56.1%.

Least likely to have had an influenza vaccination were adults with no diagnosed diabetes, at 40.1%, CDC researchers noted.

The likelihood of receiving a flu shot varied by age, according to the report. The vaccination rates were 74.5% with diabetes and 73% with prediabetes for adults aged 65 years and older compared with only 65.1% for those with no diagnosed diabetes.

For younger adults, those aged 18 to 64 years, influenza-vaccination rates also were highest for those with diagnosed diabetes (54.3%), followed by those with diagnosed prediabetes (48.7%), and were lowest for those with no diagnosed diabetes (35%).

“Regardless of diabetes status, influenza vaccination rates were higher among those aged ≥65 years than among those aged 18–64 years,” the researchers pointed out.

The CDC strongly recommends immunization against the flu for people diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, explaining that those patients “even when well-managed, are at high risk of serious flu complications, which can result in hospitalization and sometimes even death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. Flu can also make chronic health problems, like diabetes, worse. This is because diabetes can make the immune system less able to fight infections.”

The flu vaccination rate results were based on the National Health Interview Survey Sample Adult component and included a response to the question “During the past 12 months, have you had a flu vaccination?” The authors emphasize that annual calendar-year estimates of vaccinations differ from seasonal influenza vaccination totals, which reflect vaccinations obtained during the influenza season.

At the same time, diabetes status was determined by a positive response to the survey question “Have you ever been told by a doctor or health professional that you have diabetes or sugar diabetes?” Women were asked not to include diabetes occurring during pregnancy.

Prediabetes status was determined if respondents volunteered that they had borderline diabetes or prediabetes when asked whether they had diabetes or by a positive response to the survey question “Have you ever been told by a doctor or health professional that you have any of the following: prediabetes, impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, borderline diabetes, or high blood sugar?”

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