People with diabetes tend to experience mild side effects from COVID-19 vaccination. However, it is important that individuals above a certain age with diabetes receive a COVID-19 vaccine as they have an increased risk of serious complications from the disease.

Younger people living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have a lower survival rate from COVID-19 complications in comparison with older adults with diabetes. It is therefore vital that individuals within this age group also receive vaccine priority, in addition to older populations.

In general, people with diabetes across all age groups are more likely to stay in the hospital after developing COVID-19, even when they have reasonable control over their blood sugar levels.

Read on to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and type 2 diabetes here.

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Where a person lives determines the vaccine they will receive, as different countries worldwide offer different vaccines to their populations.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list the following authorized vaccines:

The CDC recommends the Pfizer vaccine in individuals who are 12 years or older.

A person receives two doses of this vaccine 21 days apart.

Doctors administer the doses as shots in the upper arm.

People who are 18 years or older are eligible for the Moderna vaccine. A healthcare practitioner will administer two doses of the vaccine as shots in the upper arm. An individual can expect to receive their second dose 28 days after their first.

Some people may need three doses of the vaccine if they have any underlying health conditions.

If a person with type 2 diabetes wants to know if they will need three doses, they can speak with their doctor.

Scientists recommend the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people who are 18 years or older. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, a person only needs one dose. The individual will receive this vaccine as a single shot in the upper arm.


While experiencing anxiety is normal after receiving a shot, about 8 out of 100,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine result in fainting.

However, people with needle phobias may choose Johnson & Johnson over Pfizer and Moderna because they only need one shot, which could explain this phenomenon.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines.

Mild vaccine side effects are usually not a cause for concern, as the symptoms likely indicate the body is building protection against COVID-19.

Side effects in the arm include:

  • mild pain
  • skin darkening
  • mild swelling

General side effects include:

  • chills
  • headaches
  • muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • nausea

People with diabetes may note higher blood sugars for a few days after vaccination. This is due to the blood sugar rising in response to the mild, temporary inflammation that the vaccine triggers. Individuals experiencing this should contact a doctor if they have concerns.

If someone has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, they are more likely to experience severe COVID-19 complications compared to the general population.

People with additional chronic conditions, such as heart disease and obesity, may also need extra care while recovering from COVID-19.

In general, anyone living with diabetes and any diabetes-related complications is at risk of developing more serious COVID-19 symptoms.

Learn more about COVID-19 and diabetes.

If anyone believes they have COVID-19 symptoms, it is important they do not panic as stress can affect the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

The best action to take is to call a doctor and give them the following information:

  • glucose reading
  • ketone reading
  • how much fluid they are consuming
  • description of COVID-19 symptoms

It is also a good idea to ask a doctor for practical advice on managing blood sugar while dealing with COVID-19 symptoms. This is because every individual is different, and what works well for some may not for others.

At the moment, there is no information suggesting insulin or other diabetes medications affect how well the vaccines work.

Because so many people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes vary in age and health, it is important they contact their doctor urgently if they begin to feel very unwell.

A person should notice milder symptoms, such as arm pain or fatigue, ease off within 24 hours of receiving the vaccine. If symptoms get worse, they can speak with their doctor for advice.

If a person’s tongue is swelling or they are breaking out in hives, this could indicate a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine. In these instances, it is crucial that they receive an injection of epinephrine and seek immediate medical attention.

Please note that these serious side effects are rare and occur in only a few individuals.

People with type 2 diabetes should receive a COVID-19 vaccination as a priority because they are more vulnerable to serious complications from the virus.

At the moment, there is no evidence suggesting diabetes medications reduce the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Anyone with type 2 diabetes should contact a doctor if vaccine side effects, such as arm swelling and pain, do not resolve after 24 hours of receiving the vaccine.