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Tennesseans with diabetes are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. 

Understanding diabetes 

Type 2 diabetes is a complex chronic illness that primarily affects people who have obesity or have insulin resistance. Having a family history of diabetes can also increase your risk. As a result of these factors, the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream increases to levels that are dangerous. This can cause symptoms like increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue, blurred vision, and poor wound healing. Damage to the kidneys, nerves, and eyes are the hallmarks of untreated diabetes. 

In Tennessee, over 10percent of all adults, 650,000 people, have been diagnosed with diabetes. It is estimated that another 250,000 Tennesseans are living with undiagnosed diabetes. Considering that over one-third of Tennesseans are obese, it is an area of significant concern. Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian-American people have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Risk of diabetes also increases as you age. 

People with diabetes are also at high risk of other health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks. Diabetes is also associated with poorer outcomes, complications, and death in those affected by COVID-19. 

Black and Hispanic people with diabetes are at even higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, when compared to non-Hispanic white populations. 

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Tennessee 

All Tennesseans age 16 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Here’s how to get your COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • Vaccines.gov. Enter your ZIP Code to find additional vaccination sites in your community such as local pharmacies and grocery stores. 
  • Contact your physician and ask about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine at their office. 

Lower your BMI 

To decrease your risk of diabetes, decreasing obesity is often a key component. Even small changes to physical activity and diet can be helpful. Before starting any program, please get in touch with your physician for a plan to improve your health. Current recommendations say 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity is a great place to start. Walking is a great way to increase activity, decrease stress, and improve your heart health. Tennessee has many parks and recreation facilities to use, so check out Healthy Parks Healthy Person to learn more. In addition to exercise, small changes in diet can decrease your risk as well as help manage diabetes. Another big change to make would be cutting out sugary beverages, like soda, sweet tea, and sports drinks. Eating a plant-based diet, low in sugar and low in processed foods helps your body get the healthy nutrients that it needs. 

Learn more about diet and nutrition on the Tennessee Department of Health’s website.