What You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines and Diabetes

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Eliza Skoler and Dr. Francine Kaufman

Last updated: March 22, 2021

COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in the United States and in many parts of the world. We’re here to answer questions for people with diabetes. Are the vaccines safe? How do the vaccines work and does it matter which one I get? What are the side effects, and how will the vaccine affect my blood sugar? What can I do after I am vaccinated?

Now that three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in the United States, and ten more around the world, many questions are circulating about the vaccines, their safety, and when to get vaccinated. While timing may differ by state and even between sites, people with type 2 diabetes or obesity will be eligible for early vaccination in the US in the coming months, though this may not be the case for millions of others – including those with type 1 diabetes and loved ones who are not currently recommended by CDC to receive the vaccine early. As states begin to distribute the vaccines, we’re here to answer your questions about COVID vaccination in the US; we’ll update this article as more information becomes available.

Click to jump down to a group of questions:

Why get the vaccine?
Why should I get the COVID vaccine?
How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
How do mRNA vaccines work?​
How do viral vector vaccines work?

Vaccine Safety
Is the vaccine safe for people with diabetes?
Does it matter which vaccine you get?
Which vaccine is best for people with diabetes?​
What are the side effects? Can the vaccine be dangerous?
How will the vaccine affect my blood sugar levels?
Do diabetes medications affect the vaccine?
Should I get vaccinated if I have diabetes and other health conditions?
What is the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Getting the Vaccine
When will people with diabetes get the vaccine?
How will I know when it’s my turn to get the vaccine?
How much does the vaccine cost?
What should I expect at my vaccine appointment?
I had COVID-19 – should I still get vaccinated?
If I have symptoms of COVID-19 now should I get the vaccine?

After Receiving the Vaccine
What happens after I get the vaccine – can I still infect people with COVID?
Can I see people now that I am vaccinated?
Is one dose of the COVID vaccine effective?
Does the vaccine protect against the new variant of COVID?
Can I get COVID from the vaccine?
Are other vaccines coming?
When can I stop wearing a mask?

Why get the vaccine?

Why should I get the COVID vaccine?

The vaccine has the ability to protect you, your loved ones, and your community. It will help your body’s immune system fight off a COVID-19 infection – this means that if you are exposed to COVID, your body can protect you and significantly reduce your chances of getting sick or experiencing severe complications from the virus. Two of the vaccines that are currently authorized in the US (from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are almost 95% effective at preventing symptoms of COVID in adults who have been exposed, and the third vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) is 85% effective at preventing severe COVID infection. In other words, if you are vaccinated with any of the three and then come into contact with someone who has COVID, you probably won’t get sick.

To stop the global spread of COVID-19, the majority of people around the world will have to become immune to the virus. The COVID vaccine – like the many vaccines that protect us from small pox, measles, the flu, and other illnesses – will play a major role in improving the health and wellbeing of people across the globe.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

There are currently three vaccines that have received emergency use authorization in the US: the Pfizer-BioNTechModerna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are similar – both use messenger RNA (mRNA) to target the “spike proteins” on COVID-19 virus molecules. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine that also targets the spike proteins.

How do COVID mRNA vaccines work?

mRNA contains genetic instructions (like a blueprint) for making specific proteins in cells. The mRNA in COVID vaccines was developed by scientists to trigger human cells to make harmless COVID spike proteins, and after the proteins are built the vaccine mRNA is destroyed. The body’s immune system then recognizes these foreign proteins and builds antibodies against them. This means that if you are later infected with COVID-19, you’ll have antibodies that recognize the spikes on the viral molecule and can destroy it. To learn more about this process view this detailed, interactive piece from the New York Times.

mRNA vaccines are not “live” vaccines – the live virus is not injected into a person’s body. This means that you cannot get COVID from the vaccine. Similarly, the vaccine will not alter your own genes.

How do COVID viral vector vaccines work?

Similar to an mRNA vaccine, a viral vector vaccine causes the body’s cells to make harmless COVID-19 spike proteins so that it can learn to recognize the foreign proteins and build antibodies against them. Later, if you are infected with COVID-19, your body will have antibodies ready to fight off the virus.

Instead of using mRNA, a viral vector vaccine contains the DNA for a different, harmless virus. In the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s an adenovirus – the type of virus that normally causes a cold or a flu – that has been engineered so that it does not make you sick. Once you get the injection and the virus is inside your body, its DNA can be read by your cellular machinery to produce spike proteins. As your immune system works to fight these foreign proteins, it will learn to protect you from COVID-19. To learn more about this process view a detailed, interactive piece from the New York Times.

Vaccine Safety

Is the vaccine safe for people with diabetes?

All three currently authorized vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTechModerna, and Johnson & Johnson – appear to be safe and effective for adults with diabetes. Rigorous clinical trials tested the safety of these vaccines in adults of all ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as chronic health conditions.

  • The Pfizer-BioNtech trial included 3,150 people with diabetes (8.4% of trial participants).
  • The Moderna trial included 2,858 people with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (9.4% of trial participants).
  • The Johnson & Johnson trial included 3,389 people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes (7.7% of trial participants).
  • In terms of racial and ethnic diversity, the trials each included more than 20% Hispanic or Latino participants, almost 10% African American participants, and almost 5% Asian participants.

These vaccines were advanced quickly thanks to the immense resources provided for COVID vaccine development – even with a speedy process, the vaccine manufacturers had to follow the typical safety steps and thorough checks. Read more from the CDC about how the vaccines work, potential side effects, and details from the human clinical trials.

Does it matter which vaccine you get?

No – all three of the vaccines will protect you and those around you. However, there are some differences between the vaccines that may be important to people with diabetes.

Clinical trials found both mRNA vaccines to be extremely effective in adults – with almost 95% efficacy overall, only one in 20 people that receives the vaccine would get sick from COVID. Among the trial participants with diabetes, the Pfizer-BioNtech was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine was 100% effective, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 53% effective. Participants were only followed for a few months, so we don’t yet know the long-term effectiveness of these vaccines. As more vaccines are administered there will be more data collected, and hopefully children will be enrolled in clinical trials soon.

What does it mean for these vaccines to be “effective?” If a vaccine is 50% effective it successfully protects half of the people who receive it from getting infected by COVID-19 if they are exposed. If a vaccine is 75% effective, it protects three out of four people from COVID-19 infection. More importantly, all three vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 infection. All three clinical trials found that in people who did get infected after vaccination, the infection was much milder – among people who had received one of the three authorized vaccines, there were almost no deaths or hospitalizations resulting from COVID-19. To learn more about how the three vaccines compare, watch this video.

During early vaccine distribution, you likely won’t have any choice in which vaccine is available to you because there will be a limited supply and the goal is to vaccinate people as quickly as possible. Both mRNA vaccines require two shots, meaning that they are not considered fully effective until you have received both doses, and your immune system has developed protection against the virus (after the second shot). You should receive two shots of the same vaccine (either Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna). The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot.

Which vaccine is best for people with diabetes?Which vaccine is best for people with diabetes?

Due to the distinct design of each clinical trial, it can be hard to directly compare the three vaccines that are currently authorized in the US. However, based on trial data and information from the vaccine manufacturers, here’s the best information we have on how the vaccines compare.

Vaccine data table

Image source: diaTribe

The data show that no matter which of the currently authorized vaccines you get, getting a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and important for people with diabetes. All three vaccines are highly protective against severe COVID illness and death. Click here to watch an in-depth video explaining how the vaccines compare.

What are the side effects? Can the vaccine be dangerous?

When you receive a vaccine for a particular virus, your immune system builds protection against it. Because your body is creating antibodies and learning how to fight the virus or bacteria targeted by the vaccine, you may experience normal side effects for a day or two – this is similar to getting a flu shot, and people with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels and have a sick day management plan ready.

According to the CDC, these are the common side effects of the COVID vaccines – they are similar for people with and without diabetes:

  • Pain, swelling, or redness in the vaccinated arm
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain

These side effects are a result of your immune system preparing to combat a future viral infection – they do not mean that you have gotten sick from the vaccine itself. If your side effects don’t go away, contact your healthcare team.

Severe allergic reactions to the COVID vaccine are rare – you can learn more from the CDC here. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any vaccine, ask your healthcare professional if you should get the COVID vaccine. If you experience a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the COVID vaccine, do not get the second dose.

How will the vaccine affect my blood sugar levels?

Because the vaccine can cause symptoms of illness that can lead to high glucose levels, it’s important to carefully monitor your blood sugar levels for 48 hours after you receive your vaccination. Stay hydrated, and make sure to have your sick day plan ready in case you feel ill. So far, people with diabetes seem to be experiencing few side effects and minimal effect on blood sugar levels.

Do diabetes medications affect the vaccine?

At this time there is no information available on drug interactions between the authorized COVID vaccines and other medications – this has not yet been studied. However, it is not anticipated that the vaccine itself would interact with insulin or other standard diabetes medications. Note: it may be helpful to avoid injecting insulin or placing a glucose sensor or pump infusion set in your vaccine injection site for several days after vaccination.

Should I get vaccinated if I have diabetes and other health conditions?

People with complications of diabetes (including heart disease and kidney disease) are at much higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you have other health conditions in addition to diabetes, getting the vaccine is especially important.

What is the AstraZeneca vaccine?

New results from the US clinical trial of the AstraZeneca viral vector vaccine show that the vaccine was 79% effective at preventing symptoms of COVID-19 infection, and fully prevented severe illness and hospitalization in more than 32,000 participants. The two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine is currently authorized in Europe and in other countries, but has not yet been authorized for use in the US. The latest clinical trial results show the vaccine to be both safe and effective.

In early March, several countries briefly paused giving people the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine due to concerns about possible rare side effects, including severe blood clots. However, since the data does not show that the vaccine increases the risk of blood clots, the World Health Organization determined that it is safe and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks. We look forward to updating this article if the AstraZeneca vaccine receives FDA authorized in the US.

Getting the Vaccine

When will people with diabetes get the vaccine?

In most places across the US, people with type 2 diabetes and obesity will be prioritized in the third group of early vaccination (Phase 1c) – this has already begun in some parts of the country. Type 1 diabetes is not currently considered a high-risk medical condition for this phase. Some diabetes experts believe that if you have type 1 diabetes and any evidence of kidney damageheart disease, or obesity with high insulin doses, it’s a good idea to seek vaccination as soon as possible because you may be at high risk for severe illness if you are infected with COVID-19. To learn about the CDC’s recommended stages of vaccination and where you fall in the vaccine line, read Dr. Francine Kaufman’s “When Can I Get the COVID Vaccine if I Have Diabetes?

How will I know when it’s my turn to get the vaccine?

The distribution of vaccines is the responsibility of each state, and states have different plans for vaccinating people. Most states will use networks within hospitals, healthcare offices, and pharmacies to distribute vaccines to residents. Depending on where you live, you may be asked to get on a vaccine waiting list. Click here to see the state by state report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, including who is currently eligible for vaccination in your state. To learn more about your place in the vaccination line, read Dr. Kaufman’s “When Can I Get the COVID Vaccine if I Have Diabetes?” If you have type 2 diabetes or obesity (a body mass index above 30 – check here), contact your healthcare office to ask when and how you can get vaccinated.

How much does the vaccine cost?

You will not have to pay for the COVID vaccine in the US; it will be given to all US residents for free. That said, some vaccination providers may charge an administration fee for delivering the injection. Ask your healthcare office if there will be any costs associated with your vaccination.

What should I expect at my vaccine appointment?

When you get your COVID vaccine, you’ll receive a paper card that says which vaccine you received, and when and where you received it. You’ll also get a fact sheet (paper or electronic) with more information about the vaccine, its benefits, and its side effects. After you get your injection, you’ll be asked to stay on-site for a short period of time so that healthcare professionals can monitor your body’s reaction.

I had COVID-19 – should I still get vaccinated?

Yes – though you can wait up to 90 days after initial onset of your COVID-19 infection. Researchers don’t know how long immunity against the virus can last after natural infection, though evidence suggests that you’re not likely to get sick with COVID again for the first 90 days. You should still get vaccinated for longer-term protection, and the CDC says that you can wait 90 days after the infection before getting your vaccine.

If I have symptoms of COVID-19 now, should I get the vaccine?

If you recently tested positive for COVID-19, are currently experiencing symptoms, or were exposed to someone with COVID, please stay away from other people.

  • If you test positive for COVID, wait until you’ve recovered (as early as 14 days from infection) and up to 90 days before getting the vaccine.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID, self-isolate and get tested.
  • If you were exposed to someone with COVID, quarantine for 14 days and monitor yourself for symptoms. Get a COVID test. If you do not get sick and your test is negative, get vaccinated once your quarantine period is over.

After Receiving the Vaccine

What happens after I get the vaccine – can I still infect people with COVID?

Once you have received both doses of the vaccine, it should protect you from getting sick with COVID. However, researchers don’t know whether you may be able to carry the virus (without symptoms) and pass it on to others. That’s why it’s still important to maintain safety measures even after receiving the vaccine: wear a face mask that fits you well if you’re in public, avoid contact with people not in your household, social distance from others, wash your hands, and monitor your health. Continuing to follow these measures will help you protect others and your community.

Can I see people now that I am vaccinated?

Two weeks after your final vaccine dose (one dose for Johnson & Johnson, two doses for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) you are considered to be fully vaccinated and protected against severe COVID-19 infection. According to new CDC guidelines, people who are fully vaccinated:

  • Can gather indoors with others who are fully vaccinated, with no need to wear a mask.
  • Do not need to quarantine, stay away from others, or get tested if exposed to someone with COVID – unless you begin to show symptoms of illness.

The CDC also says that people who are fully vaccinated can “visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.” However, people with diabetes have a higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 (though there’s no greater chance of being infected). For this reason, even if you are vaccinated, please continue to be cautious.

Is one dose of the COVID vaccine effective?

For the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, yes.

For the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, not entirely. Results from the clinical trials (Pfizer-BioNTechModerna) show that one dose of the vaccine can offer some protection, but two doses of both authorized vaccines are required for full efficacy.

Does the vaccine protect against the new variant of COVID?

Probably, but not certainly. Researchers are still studying the newest variants of COVID-19 to determine how effective current vaccines are at protecting against them. So far, much of the virus structure is unchanged in the variants and the currently-authorized vaccines seem to produce antibodies that recognize variants of COVID-19. Other strains of COVID will likely develop with time (similarly to the flu), and the vaccines can then be tweaked to match the changed threat. Click here to learn more about COVID variants, how they work, and what you can do to protect yourself.

Can I get COVID from the vaccine?

No. The vaccines do not contain the live virus, so they cannot infect you with COVID-19. Side effects that appear after you receive the vaccine occur because your immune system is activating and building antibodies – they are not signs of infection.

After vaccination it takes time for your body to develop full immunity to the virus, so it is still possible to get infected with COVID in the days before or after your vaccination. This does not mean the vaccine did not work; rather, it means that your immune system did not have enough time to build full immunity from the vaccine before coming into contact with the virus.

Are other vaccines coming?

To date, 13 vaccines have been approved for full or limited use around the world. Seventy-eight vaccines are currently in different stages of human clinical trials: 55 are in the early stages and 23 are in the final stages of testing. Hopefully, some of these vaccines will be found to effectively protect against COVID, opening up more vaccination options for people around the world. To track global vaccine development, view the New York Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker.

When can I stop wearing a mask?

Even after you get the vaccine you should still wear a face mask whenever you are in public places. Masks will continue helping to shield you from the virus and new variants of COVID (since no vaccine is perfect), and will reduce your chances of spreading COVID-19 to people around you (if you are carrying the virus and don’t have symptoms). As more people get vaccinated, the number of people carrying the virus in your community will decrease, bringing the risk of infection down. Public health authorities will make announcements about this, which may vary from place to place and even with the season.

If you are fully vaccinated, you can begin spending time with others who are fully vaccinated without wearing face masks.

While we await further information and research on COVID vaccines, protect yourself and those around you. For more information, read “Staying Safe – And Staying Well – During a Pandemic Winter” and “COVID Variants, Double Masks, Diabetes, Oh My!

Editor’s note: This article was first published on January 8, 2021, and last updated on March 22.

Dr. Francine Kaufman is Chief Medical Officer at Senseonics, a diabetes device company and Distinguished Professor Emerita of Pediatrics and Communications at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

New Study Shows Greater Risk for Severe COVID-19 Among People with Diabetes

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Eliza Skoler

New results from the CORONADO study reveal that one in five people with COVID-19 and diabetes die within 28 days of hospital admission. The main predictors of severe illness are older age and diabetes complications. 

In May, the CORONADO study revealed that one in ten people with COVID-19 and diabetes died within seven days of hospital admission. Read our early article on the study here.  New findings from the same study show that one in five people with COVID-19 and diabetes died within 28 days of hospital admission.

In the spring of 2020, the study followed 2,796 people with diabetes in France for 28 days after being admitted to the hospital for COVID-19. The analysis looked at rates of death and rates of discharge from the hospital during the 28-day period. The results revealed that after 28 days, 50% of individuals had been discharged and 21% of individuals had died (29% were still hospitalized). The analysis also looked at other factors in the study population:

  • Average age was 70 years old
  • About 40% had long-term microvascular (such as eye or kidney) or macrovascular (such as heart or leg) complications; 11% had heart failure
  • 78% had high blood pressure
  • Almost two thirds were men
  • 88% had type 2 diabetes, and 12% had type 1 diabetes

Older age, diabetes complications (especially heart disease and high blood pressure), difficulty breathing, use of anticoagulant (blood thinning) medication, and biological markers of inflammation were associated with a lower chance of hospital discharge. Similarly, older age, longer duration of diabetes, and a history of microvascular complications were associated with severe illness and poor outcomes from COVID-19 infection. On the other hand, younger age and metformin use were associated with leaving the hospital by the end of 28 days. As discussed in a previous article, while metformin use was associated with a more favorable health outcome, it was not shown to cause better health. Overall, the factors associated with death were the mirror-opposite of those associated with hospital discharge.

Long-term blood sugar management (measured by A1C) was not found to affect COVID-19 outcomes, though high plasma glucose levels at the time of hospitalization were strongly associated with death. Because glucose levels may be tied to COVID-19 outcomes, careful diabetes management remains important for preventing severe illness.

People with diabetes do not have a higher risk of getting COVID; rather, they are more likely to experience severe illness and worse outcomes if infected with COVID-19. It remains important for people with diabetes, as well as their contacts and loved ones, to do everything possible to stay healthy and safe: get vaccinated as soon as you can, continue to social distance, and wear one (or two!) masks in public. To learn more, read “What You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines and Diabetes” and “COVID Variants, Double Masks, Diabetes, Oh My!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

When You Can Expect to Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Lala Jackson

We now have two FDA-approved and safe COVID-19 vaccines in the US! So as a person with type 1 diabetes, you may be wondering when you can get yours.

The answer? Unclear. It’s all a bit of a logistical mess right now, but here’s what we do know – when you are able to receive your COVID-19 vaccine is dependent on your age, your specific health history (not necessarily whether or not you can check the ‘type 1 diabetes’ box on a form), the state and county in which you live, your employment type, and your healthcare provider’s recommendations.

Overall, having type 1 diabetes does not seem to put anyone more at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus, but other factors like older age, high-exposure employment, consistently elevated blood glucose levels, or other non-diabetes related health factors like obesity and hypertension may increase your risk of infection.

However, we also know that diabetes care itself is made far more complicated after contracting COVID-19 and protecting anyone with diabetes from COVID-19 is our ultimate goal. That’s why Beyond Type 1 has signed onto calls to action urging equal prioritization and is working closely with JDRF, the ADA, and other diabetes patient organizations to advocate for all people with diabetes to be included in Phase 1c of the CDC’s immunization recommendations.

Additionally, because vaccine rollout is happening on a state level, individual advocacy at a state level may be more efficient than federal action. In your community, reach out to your state representatives to let them know that people with any type of diabetes should be included in Phase 1c. Utilize JDRF’s COVID-19 Vaccine Access Toolkit for more resources.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Phased Us Rollout

In the US, the vaccine is being rolled out in phases in *most* states. Already, there are inconsistencies that make it difficult to estimate when you might get a vaccine.

Following approval of the vaccines, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices created a set of rollout guidelines they recommend for states to follow. These guidelines include phased recommendations for which groups of people should be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccines based on risk factors like older age, underlying health conditions, and lines of work that expose them to COVID-19.

Phase 1a is in process, having begun in December 2020 immediately following the approval of the COVID-19 vaccines in the US. It includes frontline healthcare providers and residents of nursing homes, where COVID-19 cases and deaths have been dramatically highest.

Phase 1b is happening in some states already, includes people over the age of 74, and expands to more frontline workers, including first responders, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, teachers, and child care workers.

Phase 1c is also happening in some states already, while still several months out others. This phase includes people over the age of 64, anyone else aged 16 or above with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19*, and all other essential workers, like those in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, construction, finance, information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety, and public health workers.

Note that Phase 1c is a BROAD group of people, and this is where things get a bit fuzzy. It is up to each state to control rollout. Many states are following the CDC’s recommendations quite closely, some are following them but not precisely (grouping some phases together, accelerating others), and some have created their own systems, often down to a county-by-county basis.

*What Does This Mean for People With Diabetes?

For people living with diabetes who are not otherwise prioritized because of age or employment type, Phase 1c is the one to look at carefully. As defined by the CDC, people aged 16 or over with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 are included in this phase. But what medical conditions are included?

Short answer – it’s in flux and it depends entirely on your state. Important to remember is that the CDC’s recommendations are just that – recommendations. They have very purposely created guidelines to inform rollout based on most recently available data on high-risk medical conditions, but their guidelines are not meant to be absolute law.

Currently included in Phase 1c recommendations are people with the following conditions: cancer, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, weakened immune systems, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, or Type 2 diabetes.

This means that for those with type 1 or any type of diabetes other than Type 2, you are possibly, depending on your state, not included in the initial rollout and may need to wait to receive your vaccine with the general population, which is likely to be in April 2021 or later.

But don’t panic – as we’ll explain further below, you may still be able to receive the vaccine earlier, based on state or based on your specific health history.

Type 1 Diabetes + COVID-19

Type 1 diabetes itself is not likely to make you more at risk of catching coronavirus. While some have pointed toward the callout of people with immunocompromised systems being in Phase 1c, it is important to remember that having an autoimmune disease (where the immune system attacks itself) is not the same thing as being immunocompromised (where the immune system is susceptible to outside illnesses).

However, other factors associated with T1D may increase your risk of more intense symptoms and severe complications, and if you have to get hospitalized for COVID-19, diabetes care becomes dicey.

This is a piece that has been very confusing and not communicated as clearly as it could be throughout the pandemic – the factors that make a person with any type of diabetes most at risk catching coronavirus and for experiencing severe symptoms and complications of COVID-19 are systemic racism (like being denied or not believed when care is needed), healthcare access issues (like not being able to see a doctor for non-COVID care when needed, or not being able to afford medications and supplies because of job or healthcare loss), consistently elevated blood glucose levels, recent diabetes ketoacidosisjobs that increase exposure to COVID-19, etc.

Type 1 diabetes combined with these factors does create elevated risk. But well-controlled type 1 diabetes on its own does not seem to make someone more at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

A few studies have raised concerns that outcomes for people with type 1 diabetes who get COVID-19 are far more severe than a person without diabetes, but digging into those studies provides clarity on what’s actually being shown.

  • In May 2020, the UK’s health system released numbers showing severe hospitalization and death rates for people with diabetes. It sounded scary, but what it did not clarify was that additional risk factors like heart disease were of great impact to outcomes, and that the study actually showed that people with type 1 diabetes and no other underlying risk factors like older age or other health history actually did quite well – they were not frequently hospitalized for COVID-19 and those who were had low frequencies of severe outcomes.
  • In December 2020, a similar study was released in Diabetes Care, with a headline saying that COVID-19 severity is tripled in the diabetes community. But again, what it did not immediately clarify was how much the severity was dependent on additional factors, like race (due to long-standing systemic racism), elevated HbA1c, hypertension, lack of diabetes technology, lack of health insurance, less diabetes technology use, etc.

Another study that shows these risk factors well was published in July 2020, outlining the fact that older age and other health-related risk factors were more impactful on severe outcomes than diabetes itself, particularly type 1 diabetes.

Overall, yes – anyone living with diabetes of any type needs to pay careful attention to their health amidst this pandemic. The safest thing anyone can do is practice safety measures to avoid getting COVID-19. For those who cannot – essential workers or people who otherwise have to be exposed to the virus – or those with other underlying health factors, those are the most important factors that must be taken into consideration for priority vaccination.

But just having type 1 diabetes alone, if you are otherwise healthy and not significantly exposed to the virus, should not give you reason to panic. Perhaps more important is ensuring everyone in the general public gets vaccinated as quickly as possible so that diabetes care can be safely accessed, and so hospitals and ICUs are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients in the event of emergency diabetes care needs.

How You Get Your Vaccine

Look up your state health department’s guidelines. If it is unclear or you are unsatisfied with what you’ve found, go ahead and reach out to your healthcare provider. Particularly if you have a healthcare provider like an endocrinologist who helps you take care of your diabetes, they may have some insider information on how their hospital or practice is planning to distribute the vaccine.

Remember to be kind and patient – healthcare providers are carrying an immense amount and they may not have an answer for you immediately.

Every vaccine taken decreases the risk and prevents the spread of COVID-19. While it is frustrating to watch the logistical mess, the more people who get vaccinated quickly the better, and in the meantime, continue to practice safe measures that protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19, including doing your best to keep tight control of your blood sugar levels, wearing a mask and physical distancing from anyone outside of your household, and avoiding indoor gatherings.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

COVID-19 Vaccine: Experience and Thoughts from the Diabetes Community

We are almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and while it is still causing devastation, there is light at the end of the tunnel thanks to two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, now offering a vaccine.

It varies by state but healthcare workers and people over 75 years (over 65 in some states) are the first in line. After that, people with high-risk, pre-existing conditions will be next. See here to find out your exact eligibility per state.

Many people have mixed feelings about the vaccine. Some are certain they will get it, not only because they don’t believe the vaccine is at all harmful but because they want life to go back to normal as soon as possible, while also protecting their health. Others are reluctant, possibly questioning the novelty and quick turnaround of the vaccine and wondering if there may be unforeseen side effects.

We thought it would be nice to hear from people like ourselves, who also live with diabetes, and see how they feel about getting vaccinated. We also spoke to some people who have already received the vaccine and heard about their experiences with side effects.

We asked our own Diabetes Daily forum members and the diabetes online community and here is what they had to say:

My wife with type 2 diabetes also suffers from COPD, bronchitis, and asthma. Accordingly, she would have a problem surviving COVID, so we have both registered with the NJ Covid Registry and will take the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. ~ Don1942

As I see it, two of these vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) use a completely new and untested approach called mRNA. They were tested for only a short term on young, healthy adults. Animal, medium, and long-term testing were bypassed entirely. No testing on those with various health issues, and no testing for drug interactions. They only claim to reduce the number of symptoms. Zero claims are made about keeping you from getting or transmitting the virus. Last statement verified by Fauci saying anti-social distancing, lockdowns, and masking will still apply once you have had the vaccine. Then there are the 3+% of those who are vaccinated who suffer worse side effects than the symptoms the drug is supposed to reduce, keeping in mind that in the age groups tested only 1% would ever show any symptoms at all.

Finally the manufacturers take zero fiscal responsibility for bad outcomes. If they don’t believe their drugs are safe, why should I? ~ BobCan2

I have a nephew that has a doctorate in biochemistry (currently working on gene therapy). Said “I would take any of the vaccines in a second.” His wife also an MD has had the Moderna vaccine. I have a niece that is working on her doctorate in microbiology who has had the vaccine. So yes, I will take it. ~ 1986

I’m a no. Given my recent extended exposure, I’m not concerned. I’ll gladly wait for herd immunity. ~ HaoleBoy

I am a surgeon. I got the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Just a sore arm. I have reviewed all of the science presented to the FDA and have no concerns. Glad to have access! ~ Dr. Carrie D.

So I voted yes… I’ve stated before that I used to be in the vaccine industry and I trust the science and the process. It’s not new technology being used. ~ Jughed

I’m getting the Moderna vaccine on Monday. I am a special education teacher in WI and we are the first group identified in the school district. Blessing! ~ Melissa R.

I think most people of my age remember friends getting polio, and I also remember giving my father chickenpox, which made him very, very ill; so having seen the miracles these vaccines did for quality of life, and preventing unnecessary deaths, I know I am very much pro-vaccination. My name will go down for a vaccine when it finally arrives here, hopefully, next month. I’m eligible for priority vaccination because of my age and a couple of chronic conditions.

I am 81 years old and a type 1 diabetic for 75 years. I am very high risk if I have the COVID virus. I am scheduled for the vaccine on Wed, Jan 21. My only hesitance is that the vaccine is being given in the gym complex at the local high school. I will probably encounter several individuals in the parking lot, while entering the building, inside the building, etc. In some states, people are receiving the vaccine without getting out of their cars. I wish it was done that way here where I live. ~ Richard `57

I am getting mine next weekend. I am 100% behind the science and haven’t given it a negative thought. Bring it on! ~ Susan K.

I’ll have it as soon as it’s offered. I am just recovering from COVID and it is awful. Sugars were terrible. I never want it again if I can help it. ~ Michelle R.

I will not be getting one. Mostly because I can’t help but think childhood vaccines play a major role in type 1 diabetes in the first place as vaccines are designed to trigger the immune system. ~ Fabian B.

I plan on getting the J&J one once it’s approved. I’m uncomfortable with the speed of the first two on the market, despite all I know everyone is saying. I feel better about the slow poke even if it’s irrational. ~ Caroline L.

Nope, nope and nope again. ~Kristin R.

I won’t be giving it to my son or myself. ~ Julie P.

I plan on getting one. In Nebraska, people living with diabetes are now eligible. ~ Wendy G.

My daughter is type 1 but it is not approved for children yet but she will not receive one and will remain not vaccinated as she always has been. ~ Stefanie R.

Here is what the people who have already received the vaccine had to say:

I had both doses. I’m 10 days out and still feel very run down. I was COVID-tested yesterday because it felt like a mild case but was negative. I received the vaccine 2 weeks ago and no side effects. Type 1 for 55 years. ~ Cindi H.

Tolerated both injections. Side effects were mild, with some deep muscle soreness, at least for me. I did note some insulin resistance post injections. ~ Chris A.

I got my first dose a couple of weeks ago and will get my next one in two weeks. I just had a sore arm and a little fatigued the next day. By the third day, I felt pretty normal. I didn’t notice any changes to my insulin sensitivity or blood sugar levels. ~ Karissa G.

I received both doses. My only issues were headache, fatigue, and chills.

COVID vaccine update #2: 24 hours later, I don’t feel horrible, but definitely off. Some body aches, headache and overall sluggishness. I went to bed at about 8:30 and “slept” till 10:30. (with my saul dog interruptions and the baby kicking my bladder, etc.)” ~ Nicole M.

I had mine because I work for the National Health Service and I had no side effects at all. ~ Kate B.

I was nauseous after my first dose for about 12 hours. I took a Zofran and was fine. ~ Jamie B.

I did have side effects (pain, mild fever) but I won’t hesitate to go for the second shot.

I have completed the series and just had a sore arm for a couple of days each time.

No side effects beyond a sore arm. I like the peace of mind and I did extensive research before getting it to fully understand what I was getting into. ~ Sarah R.

My 82-year old identical twin sisters each received the first dose. One got the Pfizer and the other the Moderna. No adverse reactions thus far. The one that got the Pfizer has allergies so was a bit concerned but had no reaction. ~ Auburn75

It should be mandatory that vaccines like this are taken. It’s not a conspiracy theory. There aren’t robots in the vaccine. This whole virus story isn’t a hoax, and this hasn’t been started because some people are simply trying to make some money. The sheer lunacy I’ve seen out there is beyond description. Some people think the world is flat. I’ve gotten both doses and have had zero side effects. ~ Sheralyn B.

I received my first vaccine on Jan 8 with minimal side effects being a sore arm and mild low blood sugars. On Jan 27 I received my second vaccine. Initially only had a sore arm and headache but after 36 hours, developed mild fever of 99.7, body aches, headache, continued low blood sugars, and a grape side swollen lymph node in my armpit, the arm I received my vaccine in. Fever and swollen lymph node improved with Tylenol and Ibuprofen! ~ Carlie W.

Will you be getting the vaccine once it is available to you? Have you had one or both doses and experienced side effects? Share and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

COVID-19 Vaccine for People with Diabetes: What’s Going On?

The COVID-19 vaccine is here, and like most things dealing with the pandemic, the rollout of both the Pfizer-BioNtech and the Moderna vaccines has been a nightmare. The Trump administration’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) released loose guidelines for states to follow in determining how to disseminate the vaccine but has largely left most of the decisions up to the states. Most people don’t yet know when they’ll receive the vaccine, and on the whole, most states are still in phase 1a, disseminating shots to frontline healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities.

In their initial recommendations, people with type 1 diabetes would receive the vaccine further down on the priority list, along with healthy individuals under 65 years old. People with type 2 diabetes are classified as, “at increased risk for severe COVID-19–associated illness”, and are thus to be given priority access in phase 1c, along with people who suffer from other conditions, such as cancer, heart failure, sickle cell disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and smoking. Type 1 diabetes is classified as, “might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19-associated illness”, to be given access in phase 2, with other conditions such as being overweight (BMI >25), and suffering from neurologic conditions.

This would put people with type 1 diabetes in the general population rollout, months after not only people with type 2 diabetes have gotten their shots, but behind many other chronic conditions, too. This is a harsh slap in the face for a community that could face so many negative consequences should they contract the virus (not to mention people with diabetes make up 40% of all COVID-19 deaths).

But recent data has come out that people with type 1 diabetes suffer from mortality from COVID-19 at similar rates as people with type 2 diabetes, and a study conducted by Vanderbilt University said people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes who have COVID-19 have three to four times higher risk of severe complications and hospitalization as compared to people without diabetes.

Several more studies show that having type 1 diabetes is potentially even more dangerous if you contract COVID-19  than having type 2: A Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology study published last year looked at medical records from the National Health Service in England to conclude that the risk of dying from Covid-19 was almost three times higher for people with type 1 diabetes and almost twice as high for type 2 than for those without diabetes.

In Scotland, another Lancet study said being admitted to an ICU or dying was more than twice as likely for type 1 diabetes patients and nearly 1.5 times more likely for type 2 diabetes patients than for people without diabetes.

People with type 1 diabetes have been told that they live with a disability the entire time they’ve lived with this incurable illness. We’ve sat on the sidelines while going low, been discriminated against in the school and workplace, shut out from certain industries and employers, and know the unique and awful feeling of our skin tightening from a hyperglycemic event after our pump failed for the umpteenth time in our sleep. We require special accommodations, a militant watch on our medication, exercise, insulin, and food intake, and are never offered a break, a day off, or even a hint of affordable insulin.

We live in the unique situation of a dual-reality: having a chronic condition, yet feeling its invisibility every day. We’re never quite “sick enough”; we never “look” diabetic; sometimes, we feel like we don’t even “deserve” the meager accommodations that we get (always pre-board flights, because you’re allowed to!). We live every day with the knowledge that our life expectancy is likely shorter, our days are harder, and especially during this pandemic, many of us have lived in fear of a serious complication should we contract COVID-19 and the bleak consequences we could face. Many of us have stayed home, shut-in, and waited this out, while watching some of our able-bodied peers continue to ignore public health protocols and guidelines.

The end result of the CDC’s recommendations burns and is tangible: states, including Iowa, Illinois, and Virginia, are prioritizing dissemination of the vaccination to people living with type 2 diabetes before people living with type 1 diabetes. Simply put: we’ve been told to stay in, shut up, and wait it out for the vaccine, due to our fragile health condition, and now that the vaccine is here, our disability is yet again being ignored.

Yes, type 2 diabetes is being prioritized and that is right, good, and important, but type 1 diabetes needs to be prioritized, too. They’re not mutually exclusive. Currently, the United Kingdom is not differentiating between type 1 and type 2 diabetes; they are prioritizing people who have either type. Other countries are following suit.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration reversed course, adopting part of president-elect Joe Biden’s distribution plan, advising states to prioritize everyone over the age of 65 and any person with a chronic condition to get the vaccine as soon as possible; states have yet to officially adopt these plans on a wide scale.

Recently, several letters were sent from various diabetes advocacy organizations to the CDC urging them to reconsider their guidelines. Organizations such as T1International, Mutual Aid Diabetes, The American Diabetes Association, JDRF, Beyond Type 1, Children with Diabetes, The diaTribe Foundation, DiabetesSisters, and T1D Exchange have lent their voices to make the needs of the 1.6 million people living with type 1 diabetes in America known.

The bottom line is that we need to curb the tide of this pandemic. Almost 400,000 Americans are dead, with a holiday-related surge in cases, hospitalizations, and death on the way. We need to get shots into as many arms as quickly as possible and stop telling some of our most vulnerable populations that, yet again, they aren’t sick enough to qualify, and that they can wait. We can’t.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Person with Type 1 Diabetes in the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Zoe Cook

Here’s the quick version for all of those who don’t have time to read my full experience below — I trialed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and *spoiler alert* had a great experience.

If you had asked me ten months ago where I thought life would be now, it would be anywhere but here. I was preparing to graduate from UT Austin, finalizing my application to medical school, and planning my gap year. I had planned to spend the year traveling, working as an EMT, and living life to the fullest before I commit myself to my career for good. It was only a few weeks after the news first broke of COVID-19 that I was emailing my professors and voluntarily studying from home. Quickly realizing that our entire family is high-risk, we decided to air on the side of caution. The first week of March we decided to lock down and we’ve barely left since.

Why I Participated

In early August, I found out that a local research center was conducting a trial for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and that they were looking for high-risk frontline workers to participate (at the time, I was working at a children’s hospital). Many people questioned my choice to participate, but here’s why I decided it was right for me:

  1. My entire family is high-risk and not only was I the only one leaving the house, but I was leaving to work at a hospital.
  2. Thanks to my pre-med studies, I understand mRNA technology and the FDA clinical trial safety measures enough to feel comfortable in making an educated decision.
  3. I participated in the blinded Teplizumab trial when I was first diagnosed at the age of ten, so I am no stranger to the clinical trial process.
  4. I wanted to be a part of the solution. My nature is to help others in any way that I can; someone has to trial it for other type 1s, why not me?

Sure, my hands were shaking and I was sweating as I signed the final consent form, but it was something I felt I just needed to do.

The Doses

I went in for my first dose in mid-August. It was a long first appointment filled with lots of signatures, tests, and questions. I received my first dose that same day, with a 50/50 chance that I had the vaccine or placebo. The next day I had some arm soreness, but nothing else. I was secretly hoping for at least a little chill or body ache to try and confirm that I received the vaccine, but nothing. I was disappointed with the uncertainty, but also knew that symptoms were expected to be worse after the second dose and that I had a slightly swollen lymph node in my neck. A month later in mid-September, I had a second dose, which again resulted in no immediate side effects and didn’t even make the lymph node swell up again. Interestingly, after both doses, my insulin needs dropped slightly over four days, with the fourth day needing ~30% less insulin. I also developed eczema on my face, which is something I likely would have developed at some point in my life since we have a family history of many skin issues.

In October, I got my antibodies tested and was surprised to find out that I did indeed have antibodies. I can’t say for sure yet whether I had the vaccine, but based on the lymph nodes, sore arm, and antibody tests, it seems fairly certain. As I’m isolated and no one I know has had COVID symptoms, it would be highly unlikely that I got antibodies from anywhere else.

Editor’s Note: According to interim guidance from the CDC, COVID-19 antibody tests are not 100% accurate can result in both false negatives and false positives.

Even though I have antibodies and could assume I had the vaccine, I didn’t know how truly effective the vaccine was. I decided to still treat myself as though I was unvaccinated and not take any chances. Now that it’s been announced that the vaccine is 95% effective, I can feel more comfortable returning back to some form of normal-ish life. Even then, it’s been hard to undo the anxiety and fear that seem to have become a part of daily life over the past ten months. I still get uncomfortable when I see someone without a mask, don’t even begin to consider large gatherings, and stay home as much as possible. The changes for me have been small — being able to go to the grocery store, have a cup of coffee with a close friend, and start looking for jobs again. For our family, it was just the simplicity of going to bed with peace of mind that is priceless.

What’s Next

Within the next few days, trial participants should find out about the process of being unblinded if we are offered a vaccine elsewhere. I will most likely choose to stay blinded to keep the study valid. As long as I continue to test positive for antibodies, I personally don’t feel a need to be officially unblinded, as I imagine this means we will have to be removed from the trial.

For privacy reasons, I won’t say which trial center I participated with, but I can say that they were amazing. The staff and study coordinators made the expectations of me as a participant crystal clear and were responsive to any (and all) questions and concerns. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to receive a vaccine early on and that I was able to potentially help others in the process. I cannot thank Moderna, their scientists, or their research teams enough for the peace of mind and protection they have provided both me and my family.

Originally I thought 2020 was going to be my year — the year I graduated, did an IronMan, traveled, lived life, worked hard, and visited my dream medical schools. Now, 2020 has been the year that reminded me to be grateful for all of the things I already had. I still got to wear a cap and gown, even if it was at home. I found a different way to work, a different way to interview at schools, and planned my own triathlon. Life being “paused” has reminded me how precious quality time with family is, the enjoyment of a good book, and how easy it is to take things for granted.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Did a Virus Trigger Your Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease– that is, a disease resulting from the immune system attacking the body. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, and without insulin-producing beta cell function, one develops type 1 diabetes, and quickly. Researchers still are not 100% sure what causes type 1 diabetes, but many believe that a virus can “trigger” the body into attacking itself, resulting in disease.

Why does this happen? When a virus invades the body, the immune system starts to produce a response to fight the infection. T-cells are central to recognizing and fighting off the virus. However, if the virus has some of the same antigens as the pancreatic beta cells (in the case of type 1 diabetes), the T cells sometimes actually start attacking the body’s own beta cells. Once all of the body’s beta cells have been destroyed, type 1 diabetes is developed and diagnosed.

It can take more than a year for the body’s T-cells to destroy the majority of the beta cells, but that original viral infection is hypothesized to be a trigger in the development of type 1 diabetes.

A recent study showed that kids exposed to enteroviruses are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes. Enteroviruses are a group of viruses that usually cause mild symptoms, similar to that of the common cold. Certain strains, such as the poliovirus or hand, foot, and mouth disease, can cause more serious complications.

Researchers in Finland tested more than 1,600 stool samples from 129 children who had recently developed type 1 diabetes and 282 children without diabetes for enterovirus RNA (a marker of previous exposure to infection). They found a significant difference: 60% of the control group showed signs of prior infection (without diabetes), versus 80% of the group with type 1 diabetes.

The results also showed that children who developed type 1 diabetes were exposed to the enterovirus more than a year before their diabetes diagnosis; taking this lag time into account, the researchers proved that children with diabetes are exposed to three times more enteroviruses than children without diabetes.

vaccine against enterovirus

A vaccine against enteroviruses may help prevent type 1 diabetes. | Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Researchers are hopeful about current trials, showing vaccines against enteroviruses could potentially prevent 30-50% of new cases of type 1 diabetes, but not all infections can be prevented.

Jessica Dunne, PhD, director of discovery research at JDRF, is excited by the current research. “Enteroviruses are not the only trigger for diabetes, so it’s important to note that even if we prevented all enterovirus infections we probably wouldn’t be able to prevent all cases of type 1 diabetes. I think it would go a long way,” Dunne said.

Clearly, other genetic and environmental facts are at play in the development of type 1 diabetes, but a growing amount of research is pointing to a virus as a common trigger. Other studies have shown that pregnant mothers with antibodies from enteroviruses go on to have children who develop type 1 diabetes.

Not every virus can trigger this reaction ending in disease. The virus must have antigens that are similar enough to the antigens in beta cells (and thus could easily be confused by the immune system); those viruses include:

  • B4 strain of the coxsackie B virus
  • German measles
  • Mumps
  • Rotavirus

There is even new, mounting evidence that the current COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 virus) pandemic could be triggering a new wave of type 1 diabetes diagnoses now and into the future.

There is still much debate in the medical community over the exact cause of type 1 diabetes, and most researchers believe it to be a mix of genetics and environmental factors, but the theory of enterovirus-triggered diabetes is gaining support from physicians and researchers alike. There is still much to be explored in the development of type 1 diabetes, but research like this is promising for the eventual development of a vaccine to help prevent new type 1 cases worldwide. Understanding viruses and their connection to the immune system can help unravel the medical mystery of type 1 diabetes without an apparent cause.

What was your experience when you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? Were you extremely sick with a viral illness, several months or even years before diagnosis? Do you think a virus could have triggered your diabetes? Share this post and comment with your story, below! We love hearing from our readers.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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