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Community Health Workers Urge People with Diabetes to Consider Vaccine

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People with complications of diabetes and COVID-19 are at higher risk of pneumonia, respiratory failure, hospitalization, and being placed on a ventilator. (Adobe Stock)
People with complications of diabetes and COVID-19 are at higher risk of pneumonia, respiratory failure, hospitalization, and being placed on a ventilator. (Adobe Stock)
 By Nadia Ramlagan - Producer, Contact
May 6, 2021

WHITESBURG, Ky. -- People with Type 2 diabetes face an increased risk of severe illness if they become sick with the coronavirus, and in eastern Kentucky, community health workers urged people with the condition to consider getting their shots.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved to prioritize all Americans living with diabetes for COVID-19 vaccination.

Jeanie Wheeler, a retired nurse, volunteer firefighter and Johnson County resident, lives with type 2 diabetes, and while she stays healthy and manages her blood sugar, Wheeler said she didn't hesitate to get the vaccine.

"I had no issues with deciding that the vaccine was the way to go," Wheeler stated. "And for me, I was always for vaccinations for my children. My daughter is a front-line worker; she had her vaccine."

All Kentuckians age 16 and up are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. For more about the vaccine, or how to find it near you, talk to your doctor, call your county health department, or go to vaccine.ky.gov.

Denesa Watts, licensed diabetes educator for the Kentucky River District Health Department, said anyone with hesitation around the vaccines should know their doctors, nurses and health professionals are getting vaccinated themselves.

"We really encourage people with diabetes to talk to their physicians and to consider having that COVID vaccine," Watts asserted. "We know that the risk of getting sick from COVID-19, it's likely to be lower, if their diabetes is well managed."

Wheeler added emergency responders have jumped at the chance to stay protected while coming into close contact with people in their communities.

"We have career firefighters as well as the volunteers, and they have all been more than willing to take the vaccine and protect themselves," Wheeler observed. "It's not like anyone is forcing you to do that. But it's just a personal decision that you have to make yourself."

Health professionals say thousands of volunteers with diabetes were part of the clinical trial for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the results found the vaccines to be safe and effective.

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