Fort Berthold Diabetes Program

COVID-19 Vaccine and Diabetes  

By Nyamka Reese, MPM – Grant Manager of the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country Program 

What COVID-19 vaccines are available? 

In December 2020, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines received the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as they have shown 95% effectiveness during the clinical trials. Both of the vaccines have now been approved for use in multiple countries across the globe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide, 63 vaccines are in various stages of clinical trials. 

Both of these vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, a type of immunization that does not use the real virus in the vaccine, but instead employs a piece of genetic material to create antibodies against the novel coronavirus. Important to note – because none of the vaccines undergoing approval in the United States have any strain of the real coronavirus in them, it is not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccines themselves. Each vaccine requires two doses, given three to four weeks apart. As MHA Nation is receiving the Moderna vaccine, the second dose is required to be received 28 days apart. 

COVID-19 Vaccines and Diabetes 

As we currently understand, you are not more at risk to catch the novel coronavirus if you have diabetes, but if you do catch the virus, you may be more at risk for more severe complications from COVID-19, particularly if you have been experiencing consistently elevated blood sugar levels. 

The Moderna vaccine trials had a slightly more diverse participant group but both leading vaccine trials included participants from across races and ethnicities, age ranges, health conditions including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, etc. Current studies show that people with diabetes in both the Moderna and Pfizer trials have not reported major side effects. Overall, some clinical trial participants have reported mild side effects of the vaccines, much like how some people experience injection-site soreness, mild lethargy, and a fever. These mild reactions some people experience after vaccines are typical and not cause for alarm. They are a result of the immune system going into action as purposely triggered by the vaccine, creating the ability to fight against the actual virus was a person to be exposed to it.

Because of the mild symptoms experienced by some, it is important to stay vigilant about blood sugar levels for the first 24 to 48 hours after receiving the vaccine. The symptoms may impact your blood glucose, so check your levels frequently, and stay hydrated. The mild symptoms you may experience after the vaccine are significantly safer and more easily managed than potentially getting COVID-19 itself.

As the medical team at the Elbowoods Memorial Health Center (EMHC) specified, the nurses will watch for any symptoms for 20-30 minutes after the vaccination. But, if you have any specific concerns or worries afterward, make sure you speak to the Public Health Nursing team at the Elbowoods Memorial Health Center. 

While not absolute, it is generally agreed upon among the medical community that at least more than 70% of the population must get vaccinated before society can begin getting back to a more normal state. Until then, wearing masks, physical distancing from those not in your household, and avoiding indoor gatherings are still important to slow the spread of COVID-19.