What People With Diabetes Should Know About Getting a Second COVID-19 Booster Shot | DiabetesTeam

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What People With Diabetes Should Know About Getting a Second COVID-19 Booster Shot

Medically reviewed by Robert Hurd, M.D.
Written by Manuel Penton, M.D.
Posted on August 3, 2022

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved a second COVID-19 booster shot of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for people over 50 years old and those who are immunocompromised.
  • Recent studies found that most people who were immunocompromised had a strong immune response to mRNA vaccines for COVID-19.
  • People with diabetes are believed to be at higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19, according to the CDC.

The CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have authorized and recommended a second booster shot for adults over 50 and individuals with immunocompromising conditions.

The American Diabetes Association says that vaccination “is an important tool to protect the health and safety of Americans and end the pandemic, which has taken a staggering toll on people living with diabetes and other underlying health conditions.”

The New Recommendations

Some important details about these recommendations include the following:

  • This booster is for people who received their first booster at least four months ago.
  • This fourth shot would be of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, not the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Even if you were previously vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it is now recommended that this next dose be a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine only.
  • For those who are immunocompromised and received a three-dose primary vaccination followed by an initial booster, this additional booster counts as a fifth shot.

What To Know About Booster Shots if You Have Diabetes

You and your doctor should discuss your risks of developing severe COVID-19 and the potential benefits of vaccination, experts say. “Many factors determine your risk that typically goes beyond simply having type 1 or type 2 diabetes,” the advocacy organization Beyond Type 1 notes. “Immunocompromisation should be evaluated case by case. Everyone with diabetes has unique circumstances, so determinations will vary.”

The CDC’s list of underlying medical conditions explicitly lists diabetes among the conditions that put people at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your eligibility for an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“Received my second COVID booster shot today,” wrote one DiabetesTeam member. Another wrote, “I got the second booster yesterday. Sore arm and feeling tired.”

Why Booster Shots Matter

Research indicates that antibody levels are likely to decrease over time, so getting booster doses at recommended intervals is necessary — even for vaccinated people who made antibodies after their initial shots.

Simply making antibodies does not always translate to complete immunity from COVID-19 infection. The findings from recent studies, however, are promising. In one study of immunocompromised people with cancer, researchers tested levels of antibodies, the proteins the immune system makes to help destroy a target. In this case, the antibodies were to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, made in response to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

On average, antibodies against the coronavirus were identified after the second vaccine dose in about 90 percent of the study’s 515 participants. These results are considered a good sign that vaccines using mRNA — which include those by Moderna and Pfizer — for COVID-19 can trigger strong responses, even from people with compromised immune systems. It’s evidence that vaccines can protect people at higher risk of severe infections.

One study of 74 people with diabetes who were vaccinated against COVID-19 found that the immunization didn’t affect their blood sugar control. However, the study authors wrote, “On days on which side effects were present, a deterioration of glycemia was observed in people with type 1 diabetes.” Therefore, it’s important to speak with your health care providers about whether getting vaccinated is the right choice for you.

According to the CDC, getting vaccinated is still the best way to protect yourself and slow the spread of the virus. If you are unvaccinated due to immunodeficiency, an autoimmune disease, or cancer treatment or because you are an organ transplant recipient, this new research should give you confidence to speak with your health care provider about when a COVID-19 vaccine would be right for you.

Find Your Team

On DiabetesTeam, the social support network for people with diabetes and their loved ones, members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand.

Are you considering getting a second booster shot? Have you discussed any concerns about vaccination and blood sugar control with your health care provider? Share your insights in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on August 3, 2022
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Robert Hurd, M.D. is a professor of endocrinology and health care ethics at Xavier University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Manuel Penton, M.D. is a medical editor at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about him here.
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