How to Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine


 

Editor’s Note: We have a simple goal: tap into the power of the global diabetes community to save lives. Visit coronavirusdiabetes.org to learn more about what you can do as a person with diabetes to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19 until we’re all safe. 

As of April 13, 2021, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution has been paused while under review. Learn more here.

This article was last updated Monday, April 19, 2021.


We now have FDA-cleared and safe COVID-19 vaccines in the US!  So as a person with Type 1 diabetes, you may be wondering when and where you can get yours.

While the vaccines rollout in the US started as a bit of a logistical mess, the process is finally starting to get more clear! As of March 31, the CDC classified all people with diabetes as part of priority vaccination groups, updating their previous guidance that only included Type 2 diabetes. And as of April 19, the Biden administration has announced that all people aged 16 and above in the US are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines.

Should people with T1D get the vaccine?

It’s important to remember that having Type 1 diabetes does not seem to put anyone more at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus, but other factors like older age, high-exposure employment, consistently elevated blood glucose levels, or other non-diabetes related health factors like obesity and hypertension may increase your risk of infection. 

We also know that diabetes care itself is made far more complicated after contracting COVID-19 and protecting anyone with diabetes from getting COVID-19 is our ultimate goal. That’s why we encourage everyone with diabetes to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Once you are able to get your vaccine, keep practicing safety measures. A vaccine protects you from severe outcomes from COVID-19, but it may still be possible to spread the virus to others. Keep wearing a mask and keep social distancing to help keep us safe until we’re all safe.

What about kids with T1D?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is currently approved for ages 16+; they also just requested clearance from the FDA to expand eligibility to ages 12 – 15. Initial COVID-19 vaccine trials were focused on the adult population – both because adults seem more susceptible to severe outcomes from COVID-19, and because trials for those under the age of 18 require a stricter review and approval process.

Starting in 2021 and beyond, more trials are including children so that they may be safely vaccinated against COVID-19 as well. Important to note is that children do not seem to be likely to contract coronavirus or have severe outcomes from the disease. However, as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, disparities are abundant. Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Alaskan Natives, and Hispanic children have experienced significantly higher rates of infection than their peers. Non-Hispanic Black children with T1D who contract COVID-19 are four times more likely to also experience DKA.

So while generally children are less likely to contract the coronavirus, it is important to remain vigilant and continue practicing measure to protect everyone – like wearing a mask and social distancing – to keep everyone safe until we’re all safe.

Eligible but can’t find a vaccine appointment?

The COVID vaccine rollout is being handled on a state by state basis, which has made finding vaccination appointments a bit tricky. Additionally, many states are falling short in equity – many vaccine appointments are only available online, and some states have limited and hard-to-get-to vaccine locations. If you’re trying to find a vaccine appointment, here are some recommendations:

  • VaccineFinder.org is a medical-professional vetted place to find a convenient vaccination appointment.
  • You can also look up your state health department’s guidelines. Each state generally has a special COVID-19 page where they then list out COVID-19 vaccine eligibility guidelines and locations. Many states have started working with local drug stores and pharmacies; if so, they are often linked to from the state health department website.
  • If it is unclear or you are unsatisfied with what you’ve found, go ahead and reach out to your healthcare provider. Particularly if you have a healthcare provider like an endocrinologist who helps you take care of your diabetes, they may have some insider information on how their hospital or practice is planning to distribute the vaccine. Remember to be kind and patient – healthcare providers are carrying an immense amount and they may not have an answer for you immediately.

Every vaccine taken decreases the risk and prevents the spread of COVID-19. While it is frustrating to watch the logistical mess, the more people who get vaccinated quickly the better, and in the meantime, continue to practice safe measures that protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19, including doing your best to keep tight control of your blood sugar levels, wearing a mask and physical distancing from anyone outside of your household, and avoiding indoor gatherings. 

For ongoing and up-to-date coverage of the COVID-19 vaccines, visit Diabetes + COVID-19 Vaccines: What You Need to Know.

WRITTEN BY Lala Jackson, POSTED 01/08/21, UPDATED 04/19/21

Lala is a communications strategist who has lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1997. She worked across med-tech, business incubation, library tech, and wellness before landing in the T1D non-profit space in 2016. A bit of a nomad, she grew up primarily bouncing between Hawaii and Washington state and graduated from the University of Miami. You can usually find her reading, preferably on a beach.