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COVID-19 Vaccine and Diabetes: What You Should Know

COVID-19 Vaccine and Diabetes: What You Should Know

Starting the week of March 15, people ages 16 to 64 who have certain high-risk health conditions are now eligible to receive the vaccine. As some rare cases of severe allergic reactions have been reported, people with diabetes may wonder what it means for them. Torrance Memorial Physician Network endocrinologist Dr. Lauren Choi answers questions about what people with diabetes need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Is the vaccine safe for people with diabetes?

All three currently authorized vaccines – Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – are safe and effective for people with diabetes.

In fact, if one has uncontrolled blood sugar and one gets any kind of infections, it is very difficult to get rid of the infection. Think about it. If you are a bug and you get into a place that is warm, dark and sweet, do you want to get out of this place?

So, getting the vaccine and building immunity in preparation for any potential exposure or infection is important.

Should I be concerned of the side effects if I have diabetes? Will the vaccine affect my blood sugar levels?

Severe allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare.

It’s possible that after the vaccination, one’s blood sugar can run high for a couple days as your body thinks that it is dealing with infection (although in case of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,it is only a vaccine with a fragment of mRNA which codes for a fragment of the virus, not the whole live virus; Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is adenovirus but with the gene for infection taken out.) So far, people with diabetes seem to be experiencing few side effects.

It is not uncommon for people to feel tired with some pain or swelling in the vaccinated arm and feel a little under the weather for a couple days after vaccination. However, this is a sign that one’s body is preparing its immune system for the possible future encounter with the real virus.

Whenever we distribute large amount of medications or vaccines, there will always be someone who has a side effect. For instance, if you read the side effects of Tylenol, it includes liver failure and ASA can also make you bleed out. Are these side effects common? No. One should always weigh the risk and benefits of one’s action.

What’s your risk of having significant medical problems or death from covid-19 infection vs. your risk of having significant medical problems or death from the vaccine?

I am pre-diabetic. Should I still get the vaccine?

Everyone including prediabetics should get the vaccine.

I am on medication for Diabetes, will this affect the vaccine?

No. Diabetic medications should not affect the vaccine as diabetic medications do not deal with immune system directly.