Vanderbilt researchers: People with diabetes should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 11:08 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 12:08:58-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center want policymakers to prioritize individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes when it comes to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vanderbilt researches say those living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who become infected with COVID-19 are three times more likely to have a severe illness or require hospitalization compared with people without diabetes.

Because of this, they are urging policymakers to prioritize these individuals for vaccination.

According to researchers, studies have suggested that those with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for more serious complications and being hospitalized if they get COVID-19; however, little is known about the risk for individuals with type 1 diabetes.

“I think these data support prioritizing individuals with type 1 or individuals with type 2 diabetes for immunization alongside other high-risk medical conditions that increase the risk of getting very sick with COVID-19, such as heart or lung disease,” said Justin Gregory, MD, MSCI, lead investigator for the study.

The team of researchers studied the health records of more than 6,000 Vanderbilt patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 from mid-March until the first week of August.

They compared the overall impact of COVID-19 for three populations: individuals with type 1 diabetes, individuals with type 2 diabetes and those who did not have diabetes. Their findings were then published in the journal of the American Diabetes Association.

“The study was a prospective cohort study, meaning researchers identified the study subjects soon after their infection with COVID-19 and followed these individuals as they progressed through the illness. Prospective studies have lower risk of investigator bias as the outcome is not known when study subjects are identified,” according to a release from Vanderbilt.

However, Gregory said “people living with type 1 diabetes don’t need to live in fear and have undue anxiety,” but they need to be diligent with social distancing, hand washing and limiting the time spent with people outside their household.

An estimated 1.6 million individuals have type 1 diabetes in the U.S., Vanderbilt says.