Vaccines currently routinely recommended to the general population in the U.S.* do not cause diabetes.
The 2012 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) , now called the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), described a number of studies with sufficient validity and precision that all reported a lack of an association between MMR, DTaP or Tdap vaccines and type 1 diabetes [2-7]. Studies published since this report also reported a null, or in some cases even protective, association between vaccination and type 1 diabetes [8-12]. Studies examining inactivated seasonal influenza vaccination in pregnancy reported either no association with, or even a possible protective effect against, gestational diabetes [13, 14].
Persons with chronic illnesses such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes have high morbidity and mortality associated with common infectious diseases such as influenza, hepatitis b, and pneumococcal disease. Thus, routine vaccination per current ACIP recommendations is also strongly recommended for all persons with diabetes by the American Diabetes Association [15, 16]. In addition, the ACIP recommends the administration of hepatitis b vaccine to all unvaccinated adults with diabetes mellitus aged 19 through 59 .
Mechanisms that may induce type 1 diabetes include activation of the complement system, in which a cascade of proteolysis and successive release of cytokines functions to amplify the immune response but can damage host cells if not properly regulated, as well as molecular mimicry, which refers to the possibility that similar epitopes shared between self-peptides and foreign peptides (introduced via infection or immunization) inadvertently cause the activation of autoreactive T or B cells, leading to autoimmunity. However, the IOM concluded that there was no mechanistic evidence for an association between vaccination and type 1 diabetes, as the publications reviewed provided no evidence beyond a temporal association .
* These conclusions do not necessarily consider vaccines recommended only for special populations in the United States such as Yellow Fever vaccine (international travelers) or Smallpox vaccine (military personnel).
1. Institute of Medicine. In: Stratton K, Ford A, Rusch E, Clayton EW, eds. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2012.
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15. Vaccination Practices for Hepatitis B, Influenza, and Pneumococcal Disease for People With Diabetes. The Diabetes Educator 2014;40:122-4.
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17. Use of hepatitis B vaccination for adults with diabetes mellitus: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Morbidity and mortality weekly report 2011;60:1709-11.