The topic of vaccinating is a touchy one and most parents are strongly on one side of the debate or the other. Since it’s that time of year to get a flu shot, I am beginning to see lots of questions about whether parents should vaccinate their children with type 1 diabetes.
Illnesses that mildly affect other children can dramatically affect our children with diabetes because they can raise blood sugars and cause a build up of ketones, potentially leading to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which is an emergency situation.
I wanted to share a post I wrote a few years ago: Diabetes and Vaccinating Against H1N1. They no longer separately vaccinate for H1N1, but the information provided there is still relevant. Also note that when I talk about our first sick day, it was the stomach flu which is different than the respiratory flu. I use the story to illustrate that any illness can affect blood sugars. Then when I talk about the flu in kindergarten, it was the respiratory flu and H1N1.
You can also read the post My H1N1 Vaccine Questions Answered, which is a follow up to that first one.
There is a great sidebar in Kids First, Diabetes Second researched and written by Wil Dubois, published author and contributor to Diabetes Mine, that explains how the flu vaccine works and why it is beneficial to those with diabetes. Wil uses a pirate analogy to illustrate how the flu operates and how the vaccine works. (It totally makes sense if you read the entire sidebar.)
Wil says in Understanding Flu, the Flu Shot, and the Pirates of the Caribbean, “A traditional syringe and needle flu shot is just a bunch of dead pirates floating in sea water. It’s an inactivated vaccine, a killed sample of the very real pirates that are out there planning winter mischief. It’s a safe way to introduce your body to a new threat; your immune system can study the enemy and learn how to defeat it with no risk of getting sick. It’s like taking the Royal Navy Marines down to the dock-side morgue to see some real pirate bodies to help them recognize live ones out on the open sea.”
Remember that I never give medical advice. Ask your endocrinologist or pediatrician for advice about your own child. Make your own informed decision.