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GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME AFTER FLU SHOT

If you have ever had an adverse reaction to a vaccine, you likely feel confused and scared. You might be wondering, “How could this happen? Vaccines are supposed to keep me safe, not hurt me”. Unfortunately, vaccines do cause injury in rare cases. Guillain-Barré syndrome is one of the most common injuries people suffer after a vaccination. If you have been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome after receiving a vaccine, you could be eligible for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).

WHAT IS GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME?

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves. While the exact cause of GBS is unknown, it is thought to be triggered when the immune system overreacts to an infection or injury. There have been reports of GBS occurring after vaccination against flu, meningitis, tetanus, and other vaccines.

The CDC monitors GBS cases during each flu season, and the correlation between the seasonal flu shot and GBS has varied from season to season. Although the chances of developing GBS following a vaccine are limited, it does happen.

If you have experienced any of the symptoms of GBS after receiving a vaccine, it is important to speak with a medical professional and experienced vaccine injury attorney right away.

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TYPES OF GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME

There are several different variants of GBS. These variants, which can also be linked to receiving a vaccine, include:

  • Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP), the most common form in North America and Europe. Symptoms of AIDP include muscle weakness that starts in the lower part of the body and spreads upward.

  • Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS) is characterized by paralysis starting in the eyes. MFS is also associated with unsteady gait. MFS is less common in the U.S. but more common in Asia.

  • Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) and acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN), are less common in the U.S., but more frequent in China, Japan, and Mexico.

WHAT CAUSES GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME?

Researchers have not yet determined the exact cause of GBS. However, symptoms usually first appear in the days or weeks after a respiratory or digestive tract infection.

GUILLAIN-BARRE RISK FACTORS

Are you at risk for developing GBS? Maybe.

According to the CDC, the elderly and newborns are usually at increased risk for GBS. Those who have a history of chronic respiratory illness, and pregnant women are also at increased risk for developing GBS.

VACCINES KNOWN TO TRIGGER GBS

The two vaccines most closely linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome are the flu and tetanus shots. GBS has also been found to be triggered by the COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. However, there is no single ingredient in any vaccine that has been proven to cause GBS.

The CDC recommends adults and children ages six months and older receive an annual flu shot, as the likelihood and risks of becoming ill with the flu without a vaccination greatly outweigh the likelihood and risks of vaccine-related GBS.

The CDC recommends vaccination against tetanus for adults and children of all ages and are included in regular child vaccination schedules. The tetanus vaccine is commonly combined with vaccines for diphtheria and pertussis, and may be labeled as

  • DT

  • DTaP

  • DTP

  • Td

  • TDaP

The flu shot and other vaccines can cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

SYMPTOMS OF GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME

GBS is often confused with other neurological disorders since they have similar symptoms. GBS often begins with tingling and weakness that starts in one portion of the body and expands to the rest. Muscle weakness can also contribute to loss of muscle control, making it difficult to walk or control facial muscles.

Other signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barré Syndrome include:

  • Weakness in the legs that spreads to the upper body

  • Unsteady walking or inability to walk or climb stairs

  • Double vision, inability to move the eyes, and loss of eye control

  • Severe pain that may feel achy, shooting or cramp-like and may be worse at night

  • Difficulty with bladder control or bowel function

  • Pricking or pins and needles sensation in the hands and/or feet

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Low or high blood pressure

  • Difficulty breathing, swallowing, speaking, and/or chewing

In the most extreme cases, Guillain-Barré can lead to paralysis and even death.

The most significant symptoms of GBS are usually experienced within two to four weeks of the initial symptoms beginning. If you have any of these symptoms after receiving a vaccine, seek medical attention immediately.

HOW IS GBS DIAGNOSED?

Guillain-Barre Syndrome can be diagnosed by a qualified physician. The treating doctor will usually conduct an electromyogram (EMG) to test the functioning of the nerves. They may also order a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, to test the spinal fluid for infection.

TREATMENT FOR GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME

There is no cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome but there are treatments that can speed up recovery and help reduce symptoms.

  • Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) - The most common form of treatment is plasmapheresis which involves removing the plasma from your blood and replacing it with healthy plasma. This helps to reduce the number of antibodies in your system and can be very effective in treating GBS.

  • Immunoglobulin therapy - Healthy antibodies from Immunoglobulin is given through a vein (intravenously). High doses of immunoglobulin can block the damaging antibodies that may contribute to GBS.

PROGNOSIS AND RECOVERY TIME FOR GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME

Your prognosis will depend on your personal medical history and the specific type of GBS you’re diagnosed with. In many cases, people experience a full recovery within six to 12 months. However, approximately one-third of GBS patients experience residual symptoms for three years or longer. This can include muscle pain and weakness. Others seem to get better, and then have relapse. Some patients experience long-term complications including

  • Chronic pain

  • Blood pressure changes

  • Complications from respiratory dysfunction

  • Sensory abnormalities or impairments

  • Paralysis

HOW DO I RECEIVE COMPENSATION THROUGH THE NVICP FOR VACCINE-RELATED GUILLAIN-BARRÉ SYNDROME?

Individuals who have suffered from Guillain-Barré Syndrome after receiving a vaccine can be compensated through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) if the GBS resulted from a covered vaccine. GBS is most commonly preceded by seasonal and childhood vaccines such as influenza, MMR, TDaP and DTaP.

The NVICP is a federal program that was created to compensate people who have been injured by certain vaccines. In order to take advantage of the program, you must file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. There are specific rules that must be followed when submitting a claim. An experienced vaccine attorney can help you navigate the process and help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO FILE A CLAIM THROUGH THE VICP?

One of the great benefits about the VICP is that it covers attorneys’ fees and expenses! You can file a claim with the VICP at no cost to you.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A VICP CLAIM AFTER RECEIVING A VACCINE?

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

For cases where the petitioner did not die, the statue 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 LIKELY AM I TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION?

Since its creation, there have been thousands of petitions filed with the NVICP. Here are some relevant statistics from January 2006 through December of 2019.

  • 567 petitions were filed for the DTaP vaccine with 249 of those receiving compensation

  • 1,113 petitions were filed for the TDaP vaccine with 607 of those receiving compensation

  • 1,099 petitions were filed for the MMR vaccine with 420 of those receiving compensation

  • 8,537 petitions were filed for the flu shot with 4,899 of those receiving compensation

Typically, someone is compensated for their vaccine claim about 40 percent of the time. Having an experienced vaccine attorney on your side can increase your odds.

You can also better your chances of receiving compensation by following your doctor’s instructions, keeping medical appointments, and keeping records of your symptoms.

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 specific vaccine injuries. However, depending on the severity of your vaccine-related injuries and damages, the compensation you receive can be substantial. To get a general idea of much you can expect to receive, you can add up your vaccine-injury-related medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages. You can also be compensated for pain and suffering, although that is difficult to calculate on your own since you don’t have any ‘receipt’ for it.

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.

One woman received over $195,000 as part of her DTaP vaccine-related Guillain-Barre Syndrome settlement.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I DEVELOP GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME AFTER RECEIVING A VACCINE?

If you believe a vaccine caused you to develop GBS, there are a few steps you can take to protect your health and your future legal case.

  • Follow your doctor’s orders and keep careful records. Don’t skip appointments, the opposing counsel will take this as a sign that your injury isn’t as bad as you say. It is very important for you to follow your doctor’s medical advice and stick to the treatment plan. You will need these medical records when you go to file a claim with the Federal Court of Claims.

  • Learn about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. We have more information on our website specifically dedicated to vaccine injuries, vaccineactlawyers.com.

  • Seek the help of a vaccine lawyer experienced in GBS claims. Filing a claim through the NVICP is unlike filing any other type of lawsuit. There are specific processes and procedures that must be followed. You’ll need to help of a vaccine injury lawyer experienced in these types of claims.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a serious condition that can lead to paralysis and even death. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries through the NVICP. Don't wait. There are deadlines to file your claim. The experienced vaccine lawyers at the Law Offices of DuPont and Blumenstiel can help. Call us today at 614-389-9711 for a case evaluation.

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