Diabetes & Coronavirus Vaccination

Last update: 22/03/2021

People living with diabetes are encouraged to get the Coronavirus vaccine when they are offered it. As vaccination roll-out begins across Europe, IDF Europe would like to provide some facts and dispel some myths about vaccination for people living with diabetes.


Which vaccines are on the market?

For EU countries

The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine

  • Approved by EMA on December 21, 2020.
  • The European Commission has purchased 200 million doses on behalf of all Member States, plus a further 100 million doses to re-distribute to lower/middle-income countries or other European countries.
  • BioNTech-Pfizer has agreed to supply an additional 4 million doses to help Member States tackle Coronavirus hotspots.
  • Read the safety update here.

The Moderna vaccine

  • Approved by EMA on January 6, 2021.
  • The European Commission has purchased 80 million doses on behalf of all Member States, plus a further 80 million doses to re-distribute to lower/middle-income countries or other European countries.
  • The European Commission has since approved a second contract with Moderna that would provide an additional 300 million doses, with the option to buy an additional 150 million doses in 2021 and 2022.
  • Read the safety update here.

The AstraZeneca vaccine

  • Approved by EMA on January 29, 2021.

COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen

  • Approved by EMA on March 11, 2021.
  • The European Commission has purchased 200 million doses with the option to purchase an additional 200 million.

Find out more information about the European Commission’s vaccine strategy here.

Three additional vaccines, CVnCoV developed by CureVac, NVX-CoV2373 developed by Novavax, and Sputnik V developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology are currently under review by the EMA until sufficient evidence is provided for a conditional marketing authorization application.

For Non-EU countries

Countries that are not part of the EU may have access to additional vaccines other than the ones mentioned above. Check out this infographic from GZERO which outlines the 12 vaccines worldwide that have reached Phase III of the trial process. We recommend you consult the website of your national health ministry to read about the vaccines that will be made available to you.

How are COVID-19 vaccines approved in the EU?

The safety, efficacy, and quality of COVID vaccines are assessed by the EMA. The vaccine developer applies for conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) by submitting all the results of its testing to the EMA. Experts at the EMA then evaluates the data and develop a scientific opinion. The European Commission then reviews this opinion and decide whether or not to grant CMA to the vaccine developer. If CMA is granted, roll out of the vaccine in Member States can occur. The EMA also continues to monitor the vaccines once they are approved to protect patients. Click here for more information on this process.

Facts about the Pfizer Vaccine

How does it work?

  • Scientists take parts of the virus’s genetic code (RNA)
  • The vaccine enters the body’s cells and tells the cells to produce the coronavirus genetic marker (spike protein)
  • This prompts the body’s immune system to produce antibodies that lock on to the coronavirus spike protein
  • This marks it for destruction by white blood cells (T cells)
  • If the person who has been vaccinated encounters the coronavirus in the future, the antibodies and T cells are triggered to fight the virus

How was the vaccine trialled?

  • 44,000 participants
  • 6 countries: USA, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Turkey
  • Different ages, gender, race, ethnicity
  • Showed same/higher levels of antibodies than those recovering from COVID infection
  • 95% efficacy
  • Length of protection is unknown (may need a booster or annual vaccines)

Is it safe?

  • No safety concerns reported in the trial
  • Any common serious side effects would have become apparent in the large number of trial participants
  • Local side effects at the site of injection
  • Pain - mild and self-resolved
  • Systemic side effects (whole-body) include headache, chills, muscle ache, tiredness, fever, joint pains
  • All are common side effects in other vaccines e.g., flu

Other facts

  • There is no whole or live virus in the vaccine so it cannot cause disease
  • There are no animal products in this vaccine
  • Safe in breastfeeding women
  • Generally, not for use in pregnancy
  • Not yet recommended for children
  • People who know they are allergic to any of the components of the vaccine should not get it

Facts about the Moderna Vaccine

How does it work?

  • The vaccine contains a molecule (mRNA) that has instructions to make spike protein
  • When the vaccine enters the body, it tells the cells to make spike protein which is the same protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2
  • This will trigger the immune system to produce antibodies and send T cells to attack it
  • If the person who has been vaccinated encounters the coronavirus in the future, the antibodies and T cells will be triggered to fight the virus

How was the vaccine trialled?

  • 30,000 participants
  • Different genders, races, ethnicities
  • 94.1% efficacy
  • Length of protection is unknown

Is it safe?

  • Most side effects are mild and disappear within a few days
  • Common side effects include pain and swelling at the site of injection, tiredness, chills, fever, swollen/tender lymph nodes under the arm, headache, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting

Other facts

  • The vaccine does not contain the virus itself and cannot cause COVID-19
  • Not yet recommended for use in children
  • If you are pregnant/breastfeeding consult with a healthcare professional before getting the vaccine
  • People who know they are allergic to any of the components of the vaccine should not get it

Facts about the AstraZeneca Vaccine

How does it work?

  • The vaccine is made up of another virus (adenovirus)
  • The adenovirus has been modified to contain the gene for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein
  • Once the vaccine enters the body, the cells will use the gene to make the spike protein
  • The immune system will recognise the spike protein as foreign and produce antibodies and activate T-cells to attack it
  • Then, if the person comes into contact with SARS-CoV-2 in the future the immune system will be prepared to fight it 

How was the vaccine trialled?

  • 24,000 participants
  • 3 countries: the UK, Brazil, and South Africa
  • Clinical trials included people of different ethnicities and genders
  • 60% efficacy
  • Length of protection unknown

Is it safe?

  • The most common side effects are mild and get better within a few days
  • Common side effects are pain and tenderness at the injection site, headache, tiredness, muscle pain, general feeling of being unwell, chills, fever, joint pain and nausea

Other facts

  • The adenovirus in the vaccine cannot reproduce and does not cause disease
  • Not currently recommended for use in children
  • If you are pregnant/breastfeeding consult with a healthcare professional before getting the vaccine
  • People who know they are allergic to any of the components of the vaccine should not get it

Facts about the Janssen Vaccine

How does it work?

  • The vaccine is made up of another virus (adenovirus)
  • The adenovirus has been modified to contain the gene for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein
  • Once the vaccine enters the body, the cells will use the gene to make the spike protein
  • The immune system will recognise the spike protein as foreign and produce antibodies and activate T-cells to attack it
  • Then, if the person comes into contact with SARS-CoV-2 in the future the immune system will be prepared to fight it

How was the vaccine trialled?

  • 44,000 participants
  • United States, South Africa and Latin American countries
  • The clinical trials included people of different ethnicities and genders
  • 67% efficacy
  • Protection starts around 14 days after vaccination but it is not currently known how long protection continues

Is it safe?

  • The most common side effects are usually mild or moderate and get better within 1 or 2 days after vaccination
  • The most common side effects are pain at the injection site, headache, tiredness, muscle pain and nausea. They affected more than 1 in 10 people

Other facts

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen does not contain SARS-CoV-2 itself and cannot cause COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen is not currently recommended for use in children
  • If you are pregnant/breastfeeding consult with a healthcare professional before getting the vaccine
  • People who know they are allergic to any of the components of the vaccine should not get it

Click here to read more information about the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provided by the EMA

Click here to read information about the Moderna vaccine provided by the EMA

Click here to read information about the AstraZeneca vaccine provided by the EMA

Click here to read information about the Janssen vaccine provided by the EMA

When will I be offered the vaccine?

Each country has divided/will divide the population into different vaccination groups. So far, the priority groups for countries in Europe tend to follow a similar pattern as outlined below and IDF Europe deems these groups and their prioritisation for vaccination reasonable. We recommend that you consult the website of your national Ministry of Health to find reliable and accurate information on the vaccination groups and how vaccines will be rolled out in your country. Click here for links to the Ministries of Health website in European countries.

Priority Groups for Vaccination

  • The elderly, residents in nursing homes, and healthcare workers e.g., doctors, nurses, staff working in care homes, social care workers, etc.
  • Everyone 65 years of age and above
  • People who belong to ‘at-risk groups’ and are deemed particularly vulnerable
  • All the rest of the population (except those for whom the vaccine is not recommended)

According to this general guide, most people living with diabetes will fall under group 3.

We encourage everyone to get the coronavirus vaccination when they are offered it.

FAQs

Will taking the vaccine affect my diabetes?

As with any vaccine you may have received in the past, the coronavirus vaccine may cause your blood glucose levels to rise for a couple of days. You should not be alarmed by this and can refer to the sick day rules to manage these. Be prepared and ensure that there are people around you who know how to support you if this happens. After the vaccination, drink plenty of water and keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels and you should be good to go.

Will children with diabetes be offered the vaccine?

Currently, none of the vaccines available are recommended for children as more data still has to be collected on the effects of the vaccine on children. This includes children living with diabetes.

Is the vaccine recommended for pregnant/breastfeeding women who have diabetes?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus vaccine poses any additional risks to people with diabetes. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, we recommend that you consult with a healthcare professional first about the best course of action for you.

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