The influenza vaccine is crucial for your safety and your family's as well during flu season. However, be cognizant of the fact that, like all vaccinations, there is a small chance of complications and side effects. If you have an allergic reaction after getting the flu shot, please don't hesitate to go see a doctor. If you experience an adverse reaction, such as Guillain Barre Syndrome or SIRVA, after a flu shot, you may be eligible for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Possible Side Effects of the Flu Shot

The influenza vaccine is safe for most people. However, as with any vaccine, there is a small risk of side effects. The most common side effect is a sore arm from the injection site. Other common side effects include fever, headache, and muscle aches. These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days. However, more serious reactions can also occur, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a reaction. If you experience a severe reaction after receiving a flu shot or believe that your post-vaccination pain is more than it should be, seek medical attention immediately.

Here is a list of possible side effects as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Muscle aches

  • Lightheadedness

  • Fainting

Serious allergic reactions to the influenza vaccine are rare but can occur. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Hoarseness or wheezing

  • Swelling of the eyes or lips

  • Hives

  • Lacking color or looking pale

  • Weakness

  • A pounding heart

  • Feeling lightheaded

For more information on benefits and side effects of seasonal flu vaccines, visit the Vaccine Information System webpage here.

Although rare, some people develop long-lasting illnesses and injuries as a result of a vaccination. For example, people with the following injuries have filed claims through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program after receiving a flu shot:

If you were diagnosed with any of these injuries after receiving a flu shot, it’s important to contact an experienced vaccine injury attorney right away. There are time limits on when you can file a claim.



What does a vaccine injury attorney do?

A vaccine injury attorney is a lawyer who represents people who have had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. If you have been injured by the flu vaccine, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The amount of compensation you may receive depends on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of your case. An experienced vaccine injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options.

Seasonal Flu Shots and the Vaccine Injury Table

The NVICP has created a table which lists the criteria one must meet in order for the injury or adverse reaction to be considered a “Table Injury”. One group of vaccines which are presumed to have caused certain injuries or adverse reactions are seasonal influenza vaccines.

Under the NVICP, certain injuries and/or adverse reactions are presumed to have been caused by a particular vaccine if the first onset of symptoms occurs within a specified timeframe. When an injury or adverse reaction qualifies for the presumption, it is considered a “Table Injury”. The importance of qualifying as a “Table Injury” is that the Court will award you compensation for your injury unless the opposing counsel is able to demonstrate that something other than the vaccine actually caused your injury or adverse reaction. Unfortunately, only some injuries are considered a “Table Injury” and afforded the important presumption that the vaccine caused the injury or adverse reaction. Some examples of table injuries related to seasonal influenza vaccines are listed below.

Anaphylaxis After Flu Shot

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that happens very quickly across multiple organ systems. The major systems involved include the skin, cardiovascular, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. There are four stages of anaphylaxis:

  1. Mild symptoms include skin rash or redness, itching or hives.  

  2. Moderate anaphylaxis happens when a person has more widespread and extensive symptoms like skin rash and hives that are spreading or mild swelling in their lips or tongue.

  3. Severe anaphylaxis happens next and involves a person displaying signs of difficulty breathing, extensive swelling, weak pulse and/or dizziness. 

  4. Life-threatening anaphylaxis is the last stage and involves a person losing consciousness, being unable to breathe, and having inadequate blood flow to vital organs.

To qualify for the presumption of causation under the Injury Table, the first onset of symptoms must have occurred within 4 hours after vaccination.

Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)

1A SIRVA injury occurs when the person administering the vaccine injects the it into the wrong part of your shoulder, resulting in damage to the tissue or structures in the shoulder. The main signs of SIRVA are significant shoulder pain and a decreased range of motion in your shoulder.

In order to qualify for the presumption of causation under the Injury Table, the first onset of symptoms must have occurred within 48 hours after the vaccine administration.

Vasovagal Syncope After Flu Shot

Vasovagal Syncope happens when your blood pressure and heart rate drop suddenly, causing you to pass out. When fainting happens, injuries can occur, which the NVICP may compensate for.

Common symptoms include:

  • Lightheadedness

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • A sudden warm feeling

  • Pale skin

  • Sudden feeling of tiredness

  • Yawning

  • Profuse sweating

  • Slow pulse

Once an attack starts, the following are likely to happen:

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Falling to the ground

  • Eyes remain open but roll up and back into your head

  • Twitching movements

  • Loss of bladder control

In order to qualify for the presumption of causation under the Injury Table, the first onset of symptoms must have occurred within one hour of receiving the vaccination.

Guillan-Barre Syndrome Caused by Flu Vaccine

Guillan-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages their nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, paralysis, difficulty breathing, and even death.

Symptoms of GBS include varying degrees of:

  • Weakness or tingling sensation in the legs and hands (usually in an ascending or descending fashion)

  • Weakness of the upper body

  • Pin-and-needles sensation in the fingers, toes, ankles, and/or wrists

  • Loss of reflexes such as knee jerk

  • Inability to walk or climb stairs

  • An inability to feel textures, heat, pain and other sensations in the limbs.

In order to qualify for the presumption of causation under the Injury Table, the first onset of symptoms must have occurred no between 3 and 42 days after the vaccine was administered.

The Role of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The federal government established the National Childhood Vaccine Act in 1986 to provide compensation to those injured by vaccines. In that act, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) was created. The program is funded by taxes that pharmaceutical companies pay on each vaccine they sell.

If you've been injured by a vaccine, the Federal Court of Claims is where you need to file a petition to receive compensation. You could be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering.

The petition is a legal document that you can prepare yourself or hire a lawyer to prepare and file on your behalf. Because this is a complex legal process, many people choose to hire representation. In general, the Court will pay your attorney's fees and other legal costs if your petition is filed in good faith and deemed reasonable.

Who can file a claim with the NVICP?

You may file a petition if you:

  • were injured after receiving a covered vaccine

  • are the parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult who received a covered vaccine, and you believe they were injured by it

  • believe that a covered vaccine injured your deceased loved one and led to their death

To qualify for compensation, your symptoms must have lasted for six months or longer, required extensive hospitalization and surgery, or resulted in death.

Deadlines for VICP Petitions

Just like many other areas of law, vaccine injury claims have a statute of limitations.

For cases where the petitioner did not die, the statute of limitations is 3 years from the first onset of symptoms. At DuPont & Blumenstiel, we like to play it safe and base our cases on the date of vaccination. For cases where the petitioner did die, the statute of limitations is 24 months from the date of death but not more than 4 years from the date of vaccination.

It's important to keep these dates in mind so you don't miss them! If you believe you've suffered an adverse reaction to a vaccine, the time to act is now.

How much compensation can I receive through the NVICP?

The amount of compensation you can receive is dependent on your situation, the severity of your symptoms, and how long they lasted. With some exceptions, there typically is no set compensation amount for flu vaccine injuries.

Receiving compensation through the NVICP is complex, which is why it’s important to consult with a vaccine injury lawyer. An experienced vaccine attorney will be able to help you better understand your options. Don't wait. There are deadlines to file your claim. The experienced vaccine injury attorneys at the Law Offices of DuPont and Blumenstiel can help. Call us today at 614-389-9711 for a case evaluation.

Want to learn more about the NVICP? Download our Consumer's Guide to Vaccine-Related Injuries here


The law gives Braden a pragmatic way to solve problems using his background in clinical psychology. He is a talented presenter in the courtroom, as he understands how to effectively question witnesses and relay information. He specializes in vaccine injury, personal injury, probate litigation, and business law, and has been recognized for his work by SuperLawyers.