Improper vaccine administration either in the pharmacy or at a doctor’s office can cause adverse reactions such as shoulder injuries. Flu shots and other vaccines can cause shoulder tendonitis, a painful condition in the upper arm caused by inflammation of the tendons connecting the shoulder muscles to the bone. If you suffered tendonitis caused by a flu shot or other vaccine, you can seek compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This federal program provides compensation for certain vaccine injuries.
Proper technique is critical for intramuscular vaccines such as the flu shot. Specifically, the Center for Disease Control advises that the needle should be inserted at a 90-degree angle to the skin, as close to the deltoid muscle as possible. While this may seem fool-proof, mistakes are common and can lead to tendonitis and other musculoskeletal injuries in the shoulder and arm. Improper vaccine administration can allow for the needle to cause damage to the nerves, muscles and other subcutaneous soft tissue.
Moreover, many inactivated vaccines (including the flu vaccine) contain an adjuvant. Adjuvants are vaccine components that enhance the immune response to an antigen. These components can cause a local reaction to an improperly placed needle, causing pain, redness and swelling.
Tendonitis, specifically, is inflammation at the rotator cuff or biceps tendon. Tendons are thick cords of tissue that attach muscle to bone. Tendonitis normally occurs as the result of a tendon being pinched by inflamed, surrounding structures.
The most common symptoms associated with vaccine-induced tendonitis include: (1) an inability to hold your arm in certain positions; (2) pain, stiffness or tenderness at the shoulder; and (3) loss of strength or motion in the affected arm. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the inflammation. Other complications include interrupted sleep due to pain, as well as difficulty getting dressed and/or reaching for items overhead.
My Vaccine Lawyer's founding partner Paul Brazil was featured in an interview with Jodie Fleischer of NBC4 Washington about shoulder injuries from vaccines. These vaccine injuries are referred to as SIRVA, and side effects can vary among pain levels and side effects.
Various vaccines can be injected into a person’s deltoid. If the injection is performed too high on shoulder, the vaccine can penetrate the sensitive tendons within. Tendons are thick cords of tissue that attach muscle to bone. If a vaccine penetrates the tendons or other sensitive areas like the bursa sac, it can cause an inflammatory response. The inflammation can present in the bursa (Bursitis), tendons (Tendonitis) or around the Rotator Cuff. Inflammation then causes pain. If any of the below arise after receiving your vaccine, it is likely the vaccine caused tendonitis:
If the injured person's shoulder pain does not resolve in a short period of time, it is likely a serious injury. A person suffering from lingering shoulder pain following a vaccination should see their primary care physician as soon as possible. The primary doctor will likely refer the injured person to an orthopedic doctor who specializes in shoulder injuries. In order to diagnose the injury, the orthopedic doctor will often order an MRI of the shoulder to be done. MRI's are the most effective testing method when it comes to diagnosing shoulder injuries. The MRI may show inflammation, fluid collection, or swelling. After the orthopedic reviews the MRI, they can prescribe a specific course of therapy for the shoulder injury.
In mild cases, the patient will recover fully after a course of physical therapy. Physical therapy will usually be prescribed two to three (2-3) times per week for a course of around three (3) months. If physical therapy is not beneficial, the orthopedic doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections. These steroid injections, also known as Cortisone shots, have the ability to relieve inflammation in some instances. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. The damage could be substantial enough to require removal of the bursa or repair of ruptured tendons.
Compensation for vaccine-related shoulder dysfunction includes: (1) reimbursement of medical expenses; (2) applicable lost wages; and (3) pain and suffering. If you or someone you know has suffered from tendonitis following a vaccination, you may be entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Contact our vaccine injury lawyers for a free consultation at (800) 229-7704.
Page last reviewed and updated: December 1, 2020