COVID-19 Vaccines and T1D

UPDATE: On December 23rd Health Canada authorized the use of the Moderna vaccine in the fight against COVID-19 for individuals of 18 years of age and older.

JDRF welcomes the authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine by Health Canada, which we hope will be one of many to be approved in the coming months to address the pandemic. We are grateful for the unprecedented effort by the many research scientists, clinical trial participants, industry partners and government officials who contributed to global efforts to rapidly bring COVID-19 vaccines through the pipeline and to our communities.

The one vaccine approved thus far in Canada is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has been approved for use in people aged 16 and over. The vaccine will be given in two doses, at least three weeks apart. Vaccinations have now begun in Canada, with vaccine roll-out plans still evolving. It is currently unclear whether and when people with diabetes may be prioritized for receiving the vaccine. However, JDRF will be advocating on behalf of the T1D community, making it clear to decision-makers that those living with diabetes must be included as a priority group to receive early COVID-19 vaccinations. Evidence does suggest that those living with diabetes, T1D or T2D, could face more severe disease and an increased risk of COVID-19 complications if they develop the disease. As such, JDRF strongly believes this group should be considered a high-risk population and have earlier and easier access to the vaccine. We will keep our T1D community up-to-date as further decisions are made around vaccine roll-out and administration.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I live with T1D?

Vaccination will not be mandatory in Canada. However, for people living with diabetes, we encourage you to receive the vaccine when you are offered one, pending consultation with your doctor about your individual circumstances. This is because adults, especially older adults, with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) are at risk of developing severe illness if they do get COVID-19, and vaccines are the most effective way to prevent that from happening.

Is the vaccine safe for people with T1D?

Thus far, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved in Canada. Trials of this vaccine included people with diabetes, and the data to date show the vaccine is safe and effective for people with T1D.

Health Canada has issued specific guidance on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people with serious allergies.

Will the vaccine work just as well in people with diabetes?

People with T1D are not immunocompromised, and previous research indicates that the immune response to fighting coronavirus in people with diabetes is no different to people without the condition. In addition, data on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine made available by the US FDA indicate that the vaccine is just as effective in people with diabetes as without. However, there is still uncertainty about the length of protection any of the vaccines will provide.

For further information about the availability of COVID-19 vaccination in your community, refer to your Provincial or Territorial Health Authority. As well, please be sure to speak with your healthcare provider with any further questions you may have and to help you make the most informed decision around vaccination.

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