Is the Covid vaccine safe for diabetics in India?
Vijay is a 60-year-old diabetic and he has been locked up at home for most of the pandemic. He has adhered to lockdown curbs whenever they were announced and played it safe because of all the horror stories he has heard about diabetic friends and relatives having a close run with death (including some who were not as lucky). Fortunately for Vijay, all the social distancing and other safety measures that he has undertaken have served him well and he has managed to steer clear of Covid 19.
With vaccination long underway, Vijay could have actually had both his shots by now. However, given the deadly relationship that he has witnessed between Covid-19 and diabetes, Vijay has one big question: Is the Covid vaccine safe for diabetics in India?
Vijay is right to wonder if the Covid vaccine is safe for diabetics in India, considering the comorbidities associated with diabetics who were unfortunate enough to catch the virus. They suffered from more severe symptoms and accelerated risk of their diabetes-linked complications (such as heart disease) actually coming on. Additionally, instances of internal swelling or inflammation and fungal infections made the virus even more hellish for people with diabetes.
Why do people ask if the Covid vaccine is safe for diabetics in India and what they need to know?
A host of factors contribute to the average diabetic individual’s wariness of the Covid-19 vaccine. Asking questions is a good thing as is getting clarifications and correcting faulty or misguided (or WhatsApp propagated) assumptions.
For example, some people assume that when you get a vaccine, you get a little bit of the virus or a small quantity of the virus – the same virus that causes diabetics to suffer more than the rest of the population and therefore assumes that the vaccine could be dangerous to diabetics. However, this logic about the vaccine containing a part of the virus is only partially true. A vaccine gives you only dead or inactive parts of the organism you are to be vaccinated against. Hence the name ‘antigen’.
An associated misunderstanding is that the post-vaccine side effects experienced are actually the vaccinated individual becoming infected with Covid-19 and thereafter becoming immune to it (something like how chickenpox works). People are clearly going to be very worried about whether the Covid vaccine is safe for diabetics in India if the vaccine actually triggered Covid-19. However, this assumption is completely untrue. The post-vaccine side effects emerge from your immune system developing a response to the inactive parts of the virus. Also, after the immune system prepares the necessary protein to fight the virus, the initial genetic material is destroyed.
In both these cases, diabetics can rest assured that the vaccine does not give you active parts of the virus or cause the virus in any way and it is, therefore, safe for them to take the Covid vaccine.
A lot of people also wonder if it makes sense to go through the pain of getting a shot and inconvenience if the side effects considering new variations of the virus and breakthrough infections, that is Covid-19 infections occurring in vaccinated individuals. This is less a question of “Is the Covid vaccine safe for diabetics in India?” and more a question of “Does the Covid vaccine make sense for diabetics in India?”.
Well, now that we have established that we are weighing side effects of the virus against the possibility of actually contracting the virus with its generous buffet of complications, it becomes easier to recognize that any individual – including a diabetic – is better off taking the vaccine and buffering themselves against the possibility of getting the virus.
As for breakthrough infections, diabetics – and indeed everyone – should look at it this way: you implement varying levels of security measures for your home and antivirus protection for your devices. You do this despite the fact that a sufficiently intent or able party might be able to get past your locks and firewalls. You always implement the level of security that you can afford. In the case of Covid-19, the protection that the world can afford – at the moment – is the vaccine.
In fact, diabetics are a priority group for vaccination and are advised to get the vaccine on a priority basis so as to minimize their chances of getting the virus.
Precautions that diabetics must take post-vaccination
According to the World Health Organisation, the Covid vaccine is safe for people with diabetes and is in fact strongly recommended considering their vulnerability levels.
You could consider being cautious as follows:
Before and after the vaccine and whether they are vaccinated or not, diabetics must adhere to social distancing, frequent hand sanitization, wearing a mask, and other safety measures to keep themselves safe from the virus or from breakthrough infections.
Post-vaccination, diabetics must avoid any strenuous activity. If they typically exercise after a meal to keep blood glucose levels low, diabetics should speak to their doctors about how this can be compensated for, and more so if they feel weak after the vaccine.
Avoid painkillers as a shortcut to alleviating post-vaccination symptoms. There is not enough research into drug interactions.
Importantly, also check with your doctor about whether you should keep taking your medication or make any alterations.
You need to be well-nourished post vaccination but at the same time avoid foods with a high GI. Fatty fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds, and nourishing fruits and vegetables are some options that you can choose from.
If you have been wondering whether the covid vaccine is safe for diabetics in India and are therefore still unvaccinated, book your slot now. It is not only safe but highly recommended for diabetics as a priority group.