Vaccines like the flu shot can cause SIRVA (Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration). Compensation is available for vaccine related shoulder injuries, including:
My Vaccine Lawyer's founding partner Paul Brazil was interviewed by Jodie Fleischer of NBC4 Washington about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), a federal compensation program for vaccine injuries. Paul and Jodie discuss the frequency of vaccine injuries and the lack of public knowledge about the NVICP.
"SIRVA," or "Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration," is a medical term used to describe any one of the various injuries caused by vaccines such as the Flu shot, Tetanus shot, TDaP and DTaP vaccines, or the HPV shot. Roughly 70% of shoulder related vaccine injuries are caused by the flu shot. SIRVA usually occurs when the vaccine is administered too high into the deltoid muscle at the top of the arm area or shoulder. It is unlikely that a vaccination given in the lower arm will cause a shoulder injury (although it can cause other injuries).
In many cases, the injury is caused by a vaccine being injected too high on the arm. Near the top of the shoulder there are several sensitive areas, including the bursa sac. The bursa functions as a lubricant and allows the muscles, tendons and bones of the shoulder joint to move smoothly.
A vaccine administered into the bursa can penetrate the fluid-filled sac, causing an inflammatory response. The inflammation can present in the bursa (Bursitis), tendons (Tendonitis) or around the rotator cuff. Inflammation causes pain and reduced range of motion.
In some cases, the shoulder pain will resolve on its own within a week or two. If it does not, then the pain is likely being caused by a significant injury. A person suffering from one of the various shoulder injuries following vaccine should see a primary care physician as soon as possible.
Primary care physicians will likely refer the patient to an orthopedist who specializes in these injuries following an adverse vaccine reaction. In order to diagnose the injury, the orthopedist will likely prescribe an MRI of the shoulder. MRIs are the most useful diagnostic test when it comes to diagnosing shoulder injuries.
The MRI may show inflammation, fluid collection, swelling, or even tears. After the orthopedist reviews the MRI, they can offer a diagnosis that usually includes one or all of following: Bursitis, Tendonitis, Adhesive Capsulitis and Rotator Cuff Injury.
In mild cases, the patient will recover fully after a course of physical therapy. Physical therapy will usually be prescribed 2-3 times per week for approximately 3 months.
If physical therapy does not resolve the shoulder pain, the orthopedist may recommend corticosteroid injections. These steroid injections can relieve inflammation and help the patient regain some range of motion. In some cases, the injections will completely resolve the problem. In others, the relief may be temporary.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. The damage could be substantial enough to require removal of the bursa or repair of the tendons.
If you or your child suffered one of the aforementioned shoulder injuries caused by a flu vaccine or other vaccination, you may be entitled to compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you.
Page last reviewed and updated: January 3, 2019