People with diabetes are about three times more likely to die with influenza (flu) and pneumonia than those without diabetes, yet more than half of people with diabetes did not get a flu shot in a recent year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people with diabetes to get a flu shot before this flu season, generally November through March.

"People with diabetes may be unaware that their disease can make their immune system more vulnerable to severe cases or even death from the flu," said Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at CDC. "A flu shot is an easy, safe, preventive measure that people with diabetes should take to protect themselves from the risks associated with the flu.

Flu shots do not contain a live virus so they cannot cause the flu," said Tamara Kicera, deputy chief for program development and evaluation, Adult Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch of the CDC's National Immunization Program. "Getting a flu shot is essential for people with diabetes. For other people, such as family members of people with diabetes, the shot not only protects them from the flu, it can help them avoid passing the flu along to their loved ones. A flu shot can be a good idea for anyone who wants to reduce their risk of illness, but people with chronic diseases should be sure to ask their doctor about this vaccination.

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CDC also recommends that people with diabetes receive a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine to protect against the most common form of pneumonia because they are at greater risk for several co-morbidity factors including heart disease and renal failure. Annually,10,000 to 30,000 people with diabetes die from complications resulting from flu and pneumonia.