Chronic Diseases

Vaccines for Adults with Chronic Diseases

Chronic health conditions can increase your risk of serious complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases, such as flu and COVID-19. Serious complications may include long-term illness, hospitalization, and even death. This is true, even if you feel healthy and your medical condition is under control. You can do a lot to manage your health condition(s) and getting vaccinated is an important step in staying healthy.

Children with certain medical conditions may also need additional vaccinations. Be sure to talk to their healthcare provider about which vaccines they may need.

COVID-19 Vaccination for People with Moderately or Severely Weakened Immune Systems (Immunocompromised)

Having a weakened immune system and the use of certain medications/treatments can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. People with a weakened immune system may not be protected even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.

People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) at least 28 days after the second dose.

Diabetes

According to the CDC,  if you have diabetes (type 1 or type 2), it may be harder for your immune system to fight off infections putting you at risk for more serious complications from an illness like flu and COVID-19. Flu can raise your blood glucose to dangerously high levels, and you are at increased risk for flu-related complications. In fact, adults with diabetes are 3 times more likely to die from flu-related complications and 6 times more likely to be hospitalized due to flu. In addition, people with diabetes have higher rates of hepatitis B than the rest of the population since the disease can be spread from the sharing of blood glucose meters, finger stick devices, or other diabetes care equipment.

The CDC recommends people with diabetes get:

  • Flu vaccine – Get a flu shot every year to help prevent flu and its serious complications. Find a flu vaccine near you.
    • Studies show that flu vaccination is associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes.
  • Pneumococcal vaccines  –  Get vaccinated to protect against pneumococcal disease. Ask your healthcare provider, which pneumococcal vaccines you need and when you should get them.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine – Get vaccinated to protect against hepatitis B if you are unvaccinated and younger than 60 years of age. If you are 60 years or older, ask your healthcare provider if you need the hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Tdap vaccine/Td vaccine –  Get a one-time dose of Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). After that, adults need a Td booster shot to protect against tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years. (Pregnant people are recommended to get a Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy to help protect BOTH themselves and their babies from whooping cough.)
  • Shingles vaccine– Get two doses of shingles vaccine if you are 50 years of age or older to protect against shingles and its complications.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine – Get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and get a booster shot if recommended, if you have diabetes or other medical conditions that put you at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and even death.  Find the COVID-19 vaccine information for your state. Find answers to your questions about COVID-19 and COVID vaccines.

Learn More

The Dangers of Flu: Why People with Diabetes Need to Get Vaccinated (NFID Fact Sheet) 

Asthma, COPD and Other Lung Conditions

According to the CDC, if you have COPD or asthma, you are more likely to get complications from the flu and COVID-19. COPD and asthma cause your airways to swell and become blocked with mucus, which can make it hard to breathe. Certain vaccine-preventable diseases can also increase swelling of your airways and lungs. The combination of the two can lead to pneumonia and other serious respiratory illnesses.

The CDC recommends people with asthma, COPD, or other lung conditions get:

Learn More

What You Need to Know About COPD, Asthma and Adult Vaccines (CDC Fact Sheet)

Heart Disease 

According to the CDC, if you have heart disease, it might be harder for you to fight off certain diseases or you may be more likely to have serious complications from certain diseases. If you have heart disease, or had a stroke, you have a higher risk of serious medical complications from the flu.

The CDC recommends people with heart disease get:

  • Flu vaccine – Get a yearly flu vaccine to protect against flu and its complications. This is very important because the flu can increase the risk of another heart attack or stroke. Find a flu vaccine near you
    • A 2018 study found that the risk of heart attack was 6 times higher within a week of confirmed flu infection, especially for older adults and those experiencing their first heart attack.
    • Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year.
  • Pneumococcal vaccines (PCV13 and PPSV23) – Get vaccinated to protect against pneumococcal disease. Ask your healthcare provider, which pneumococcal vaccines you need and when you should get them.
  • Tdap vaccine/Td vaccine – Get a  one-time dose of Tdap  to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). After that, adults need a Td booster shot every 10 years.
  • Shingles vaccine – Get two doses of shingles vaccine if you are 50 years of age or older to protect against shingles and its complications. You should get the vaccine, even if you had a shingles infection before.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine – Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. People with heart disease are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and even death. Find the COVID-19 vaccine information for your state. Find answers to your questions about COVID-19 and COVID vaccines.

Learn More

There may be other vaccines recommended for you if you have diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD and/or lung conditions. In addition, people with other health conditions, such as HIV and sickle cell disease, may also need vaccines to help protect them from illness, so be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about which vaccines you need.

Also, please note that there have been hepatitis A outbreaks among adults in the U.S. over recent years. CDC reports that these cases have been occurring in people using drugs and/or people experiencing homelessness.

 
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