How the New CDC COVID Guidance Impacts Diabetes Patients and Healthy Coping

Healthy coping, as a behavior, has been critical for coaching and success for people with diabetes in dealing with the ups and downs (no pun intended) of living with the diagnosis. It comes with additional stress, increased risk for depression and other mental health concerns, feeling isolated, overwhelmed when it comes to social events involving food, medications and finances related to medications and other health related costs. As if that were not enough, the global pandemic threw us all for a loop, and a lot of our usual healthy coping strategies like group fitness, social groups, gathering with friends, church or other outings became risky, especially for those with chronic conditions like diabetes and even more so for those in minority populations. While social distancing was necessary and effective for helping control the spread of the novel coronavirus while treatments and vaccines were being developed, the impact on our mental health and isolation was lonely and disorienting at best and devastating at worst. Through innovation, funding and scientific cooperation, the best and brightest minds have developed vaccines that have been distributed at record pace with public health officials leading the way. On April 27, 2021, the CDC released new recommendations for those that have been vaccinated that we can now recommend to our patients with diabetes. These include:

  • Walking, running or biking outdoors with members of your household without a mask
  • Attending small, outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends without a mask
  • Attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people without a mask
  • Dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households without a mask
  • Go to outdoor concerts or sporting events with a mask (if in a crowd)
  • Go to movie theaters, malls or museums with a mask
  • Attend small gatherings with multiple households who are unvaccinated with a mask
  • Still avoid large gatherings
  • Avoid those who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID

As a reminder fully vaccinated means, 2 weeks or more after the 2nd Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 2 weeks or more after a single Johnson and Johnson vaccine. If you need assistance finding a vaccine near you, please visit, https://vaccinefinder.org/.  All of these activities that we can now participate in, thanks to vaccines and better control of COVID, are essential options for people with diabetes to begin accessing for healthy coping as alternatives to less than healthy ones that we can all default to. It is also important to remind patients that when if an unhealthy coping strategy is chosen, like overeating, smoking, overconsumption of alcohol or any other behavior that takes a person further from their goals, it is never an all or nothing decision. Keep a list of other strategies that work for you and that you enjoy and begin to use that one as soon as you realize you need it as well as scheduling it regularly before those others creep up due to stress or other reasons.

Written By: Ashley W. Ellis, PharmD, CDECS

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