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Three out of four Canadians over 65 have a chronic medical condition, including diabetes.

People with chronic health conditions like diabetes have a higher risk of serious flu-related complications, hospitalizations or even death. These complications include worsening of chronic heart disease, pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.

It’s all too easy to put off getting the flu shot thinking that you won’t get the flu, or that if you do, it won’t be that bad. The reality is, even healthy adults over the age of 65 can get sick enough from the flu to end up hospitalized. Hospitalizations occur disproportionately in adults over 65 who are a high-risk group for getting flu-related complications, especially those with additional medical conditions like diabetes. In fact, adults 65 years of age and older accounted for 65% of flu-related hospitalizations and 86% of the flu-related deaths in the 2017-2018 flu season.

Our immune system’s defense declines as we age, even if we are healthy, which exposes us to an increased risk of contracting infections like the flu.

It’s important to note that if you only get a mild case of the flu, you can still pass it on to the people you care about—especially those who are considered at high risk for flu-related complications, including older adults 65+. and young children six months up to five years old.

But I'm in good health and managing my diabetes

There are 3.5 million Canadians currently diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and this number is expected to increase 32% by 2028.

The flu stresses the body out, which can cause blood sugars to spike out of control. In a recent study of people with type 2 diabetes who used mobile health technologies, such as exercise trackers and app-enabled smartphones, it was observed that people with diabetes who had the flu saw more acute events, such as a 75% increase in abnormal blood sugar events, compared to people without diabetes who were also using mobile health technologies. Persistently increased blood sugars can affect the immune system and increase the frequency of infections.

Can catching the flu have a lasting impact on my health?

“Influenza is not just a bad cold. It is a cascade of shutdown.” says pharmacist Umberto Leone, whose father Mike Leone, caught an episode of flu in 2017 that put him in the hospital for nine months. [They are featured in the video above.]

With any medical illness, a single hospitalization can have a devastating impact on an older adult’s ability to fully recover. Functional declines, such as loss of muscle function and loss of independence, can occur very quickly after a hospital stay. Surviving the flu, or any illness that results in a hospital stay, doesn’t mean patients will go home unscathed, as their quality of life can be significantly and negatively impacted.

Studies have found that as many as one-third of older adults leave hospital with a significant loss of their ability to carry out their activities of daily living, such as eating and dressing themselves.

Ask your health-care provider about FLUZONE® High-Dose

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu. FLUZONE® High-Dose is formulated specifically for adults 65 years of age and older. It contains four times the amount of antigen compared to the standard dose flu vaccine, FLUZONE®, which makes it 24% more effective at protecting you from catching the flu.

It is important to note that individuals who got the flu shot:

  • Are more likely to be protected against the flu compared to those who are unvaccinated
  • Are protected against several different flu strains

As with all vaccines, FLUZONE® High-Dose does not protect 100 percent of people immunized. It does not treat influenza or reduce the risk of hospitalization and/or complications. Allergic reactions can occur. The most common side effects are pain at the injection site and muscle ache. For more information, visit

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the sponsor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Diabetes Canada.

Author: Sanofi Pasteur

Category Tags: Healthy Living;

Region: National

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