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Flu prevention measures need to be taken more seriously in diabetic patients

(Vienna 6th December 2011) Patients with diabetes, as sufferers of a chronic condition, belong to groups of people that are particularly at risk from influenza. This is why flu vaccinations are strongly recommended as vital preventative measures for those affected. A study carried out at the MedUni Vienna involving 15,000 participants, which has now been published in the European Journal of Public Health, however, shows that only around 30 per cent of patients are vaccinated against flu - and that there is a difference between the numbers of men and women receiving the vaccine.

“The vaccination rate for flu vaccines in diabetic patients in Austria is unfortunately particularly low,” says study leader Thomas Dorner from the Institute of Social Medicine (Public Health Centre) at the Medical University of Vienna. An "unsettling gender difference” has also been noted, with men in this case taking the lead: 39 per cent of male diabetics are vaccinated against flu, whereas only 30 per cent of female diabetics are.

This also means that the likelihood of being vaccinated against flu is 61 per cent higher for male diabetics than for non-diabetics, whereas for women there is no difference between the level of vaccination between people with or without diabetes. Says Dorner: “The aggregated data invites the conclusion that the vaccination rate among diabetic patients in Austria needs to be considerably stepped up and that there is a gender gap here which needs to be closed.”

For diabetics, who are at higher risk of infections anyway, the consequences of flu are much more serious than for non-diabetics, explains Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, Professor of Gender Medicine at the MedUni Vienna. “The risk of developing heart problems is significantly higher.”

Service: European Journal of Public Health
“Sex differences in coverage of influenza vaccinations in subjects with diabetes mellitus and ischemic heart disease: trends two decades.” T.E. Dorner, E. Rasky, K. Stein, W. Stronegger, A. Kautzky-Willer, A. Rieder. DOI 10.1007/s10354-010-0856-4.