Vaccinate people with diabetes on priority: Researchers

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Researchers have urged policymakers to prioritise vaccination for individuals with diabetes as such people, once infected with Covid-19, are three times more likely to have a severe illness or require hospitalisation compared with people without diabetes.

While studies have suggested that those with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for more serious complications and being hospitalised if they get Covid-19, little is known about the risk for individuals with type 1 diabetes.

“Our data supports prioritising individuals with type 1 or individuals with type 2 diabetes for immunisation alongside other high-risk medical conditions that increase the risk of getting very sick with Covid-19, such as heart or lung disease,” said Justin Gregory, lead investigator from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

The team of investigators identified electronic health records (EHRs) of more than 6,000 patients who had a Covid-19 diagnosis during the period from mid-March until the first week of August.

The team then closely reviewed the patients’ medical records and contacted many individuals by telephone to identify additional risk factors and gather more information on how Covid-19 had impacted their health.

They compared the overall impact of Covid-19 for three populations: individuals with type 1 diabetes, individuals with type 2 diabetes and those who did not have diabetes.

“People with type 1 diabetes don’t need to live in fear and have undue anxiety, but they need to be really diligent in doing the things we all should be doing,” Gregory said in a paper published in Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Association.

“All of us should be washing our hands and staying six feet apart. We should be conscientious about limiting the time spent with people outside our household. I’m not asking people with type 1 diabetes to do anything that all of us shouldn’t already be doing. I just think they need to be the most diligent about doing it day in and day out,” said Gregory.