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Rotator Cuff Vaccine Injury,
SIRVA from a Vaccine

How can a vaccine injure a rotator cuff?

The muscles and tendons of a rotator cuff can be damaged when a vaccine is administered too high or too deep into the shoulder. This is called SIRVA.

shoulder pain after a vaccine?

What are the signs of a rotator cuff injury?

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Rotator cuff vaccine injury

Flu shots, tetanus shots and other vaccines can often cause a shoulder rotator cuff tear and other shoulder injuries such as Tendonitis and Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder). Rotator cuff injuries can be painful and debilitating for people of all ages. In the case of a rotator cuff tear or injury, vaccines are administered into the deltoid of the vaccine recipient’s shoulder. If the injection is administered too high on the shoulder, the needle can penetrate the sensitive tendons and bursa within. This can cause inflammation of the rotator cuff and subsequently lead to additional complications. Often, a complete tear of the rotator cuff will occur.


How does the flu shot cause rotator cuff injuries?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that connect the upper arm bone (the humerus) to the shoulder blade (the scapula). The muscles allow the shoulder to rotate, while the tendons connect in the shape of a cuff around the humerus. Vaccines can cause rotator cuff injuries and other shoulder injuries. Although rare, there are a few different ways a vaccination, such as a flu shot, can cause a rotator cuff injury in the shoulder. Medical literature lists the following as potential causes:

  • Over-penetration or poor vaccine administration technique;
  • Inappropriate needle length;
  • The patient's physical characteristics;
  • Injection point is too high, potentially piercing the subacromial bursa;
  • A robust local immune-mediated inflammatory reaction if vaccine antigen is injected into synovial tissues under the deltoid muscle.

How common are rotator cuff vaccine injuries?

Rotator cuff injuries from vaccinations are relatively rare, but they do happen. In one recent year, over 650 vaccine injury cases were compensated by the VICP for a total of $196,217,707.64 in damages paid to vaccine injury victims.

Recently, My Vaccine Lawyer's founding partner Paul Brazil was interviewed by Jodie Fleischer of NBC4 Washington about SIRVA injuries from vaccines, including rotator cuff injuries, along with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a federal compensation program for vaccine injuries in the United States. Paul and Jodie also discuss the frequency of adverse reactions and the lack of public knowledge about the VICP.

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How are rotator cuff vaccine injuries diagnosed?

In some cases, the shoulder pain will resolve on its own within a reasonable amount of time. If it does not, then the pain is likely being caused by a significant injury such as rotator cuff tear, Frozen Shoulder, Tendonitis, Ulnar Neuropathy or Bursitis. If this is the case, a primary care physician should be consulted.

A primary care physician will likely refer the patient to an orthopedic doctor who specializes in these injuries. In order to diagnose the injury, the orthopedist may recommend that the patient undergo an MRI of the shoulder. The MRI may show inflammation, fluid collection, swelling, or even a tear of the rotator cuff. After the orthopedist reviews the MRI, they can offer a specific diagnosis.


Symptoms of rotator cuff vaccine injuries

If any of the symptoms below arise after a vaccine injection, it is likely that the vaccine recipient has a resulting rotator cuff injury:

  • Pain when moving the arm to the side or behind the body
  • Worsening pain in cold weather
  • Worsening pain at night
  • Limited range of motion
  • Weakness when lifting the arm
  • chronic pain in and around the shoulder capsule

Rotator cuff vaccine injury treatment

If you believe you suffered a rotator cuff injury from a vaccine, you should immediately consult your doctor. Your doctor may want to do tests to diagnose your injury such as x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, or ultrasounds. Once diagnosed, your doctor will be able to prescribe the various treatment options for your injury. Our vaccine injury attorneys have seen a variety of treatments prescribed for shoulder injuries, including various medication, cortisone injections, or other related steroid injections, physical therapy and in more rare cases, surgical procedures.

In mild cases, the patient will recover fully after a course of physical therapy. If physical therapy is not does not resolve the symptoms, the orthopedist may recommend corticosteroid (Cortisone) injections. These steroid injections can relieve inflammation. In some cases the injections will completely resolve the problem. In others, the relief may only be temporary. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. In the case of a torn rotator cuff, surgery may be performed to repair the tear. If underlying subacromial bursitis or nerve damage such as Brachial Neuritis is discovered, surgery and various treatments to repair those conditions may be necessary. Our vaccine injury lawyers have handled over 1,000 cases involving rotator cuff injuries caused by the influenza vaccine, among others.


How to report a rotator cuff vaccine injury

You should first report your vaccine-related injury to your doctor to received proper treatment as soon as possible. Because a rotator cuff vaccine injury classifies as SIRVA, those who have been injured may also report their injury to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System which is a national vaccine safety surveillance program. It is crucial to then contact a vaccine injury lawyer to protect your rights in the case of a vaccine injury when filing in the VICP.


Compensation for a rotator cuff vaccine injury

If you suffer a rotator cuff injury as the result of a vaccination, you can seek compensation through the vaccine injury compensation program ("VICP"). Through the VICP, the government has paid billions of dollars to individuals with rotator cuff and other shoulder injuries caused by the administration of certain vaccines. The attorneys at My Vaccine Lawyer have handled thousands of cases for rotator cuff injuries and can provide you with a free consultation to evaluate your case. You may also be compensated for the following: (1) reimbursement of medical expenses; (2) applicable lost wages; and (3) pain and suffering.

  • Reimbursement of Medical Expenses: Any medical costs incurred for treatment of the vaccine injury are reimbursable by the VICP. Reimbursable expenses are limited to what the injured party has paid or will pay related to the injury, and will not be applied to any portion of treatment paid for by a health insurance provider. The exception to this rule applies in cases where state Medicaid has paid for some or all treatment. Medicaid is the only entity that is able to subrogate against a compensation award for a vaccine injury. In light of this rule, it is crucial that the injured party advise their attorney if they have been a Medicaid recipient during or leading up to treatment. In cases where catastrophic injuries have occurred and in-home nursing or home modifications are necessary, the VICP will estimate expenses that an injured party will incur in the future. Petitioners can recover damages for those medical expenses in addition to expenses they have already paid.
  • Lost Wages: If a vaccine injury or related treatment causes an injured party to miss work and lose income, the VICP will reimburse the party for those wages. Even in cases involving workers’ compensation, a petitioner can seek the difference between the benefits received through workers’ compensation and the actual wages lost. Standard pre-reimbursement tax deductions apply.
  • Pain and Suffering: Although each injured party experiences some degree of pain and suffering, the extent is largely determined by the circumstances of the claim. The key factors for determining a monetary value for pain and suffering can be narrowed down to symptoms, treatment and residual effects on an injured party’s life. The type and duration of treatment coupled with the severity and duration of symptoms speak to the injured party’s experience. Those factors, in addition to any residual or permanent effects on the party’s life are used to quantify the claim and determine an award.



Page last reviewed and updated: January 5, 2021

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