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SIRVA AND NEEDLE INJURIES FROM VACCINES

If you have received a vaccine and then developed severe shoulder pain, you likely feel confused and scared. Shoulder pain is a common side effect of vaccines, but sometimes it becomes severe and long-lasting. When it reaches this type of severity it is known as a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA). SIRVA can occur when a healthcare professional incorrectly administers a vaccine. It may have nothing to do with the contents of the vaccine itself.

If you have experienced any symptoms of SIRVA after receiving a vaccine, it is important to speak with a medical professional and experienced vaccine attorney right away. You may be entitled to financial compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).

WHAT IS SIRVA?

SIRVA stands for Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration. It is a medical and legal term used to describe shoulder injuries under the National Vaccine Compensation Program (NVICP). SIRVA often occurs when a vaccine is administered improperly by a nurse or doctor. It is perhaps the most common vaccine adverse reaction. SIRVA can occur after a variety of vaccines, including childhood vaccines and seasonal flu shots.

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WHAT CAUSES SIRVA?

SIRVA is not caused by the contents of a vaccine itself, but instead by the needle used to administer the vaccine. SIRVA happens when a medical provider uses improper technique. Sometimes the needle can hit a nerve or area of the arm it’s not supposed to and cause problems. A seemingly small wrong move in the needle’s placement can damage the sensitive area surrounding the deltoid muscle.

Sometimes the vaccine is injected too high and hits the “bursa sac”. The bursa sac is a bubble of fluids in the arm that allows muscles, tendons, and bones in the shoulder to move smoothly. When a vaccine bursts the bursa sac it can cause swelling and inflammation, leading to pain and a reduced range of motion.

The following vaccines can cause shoulder injuries:

  • Flu shot

  • Tetanus shot

  • TDaP Vaccine

  • DTaP Vaccine

  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine (MMR)

  • Polio (IPV) Vaccine

  • Hepatitis A and B Vaccines

  • Varicella (chickenpox) Vaccine

  • Rotavirus Vaccine

  • Pneumococcal vaccine

SYMPTOMS OF SIRVA

SIRVA symptoms are similar to that of other shoulder injuries. The main symptoms include persistent shoulder pain and decreased range of motion. In severe cases, SIRVA can impact a person’s ability to complete daily tasks.

POSSIBLE SHOULDER INJURIES RELATED TO VACCINE ADMINISTRATION

  • Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder) is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder.

  • Bursitis is caused by an inflamed bursa sac. In rare cases, it can become infected. Symptoms include an achy and stiff shoulder joint.

  • A rotator cuff tear is characterized by a dull ache deep within the shoulder, or a sharp/stabbing pain. The rotator cuff is more likely to tear if you put off getting treatment.

  • Tendonitis is inflammation of tissue connecting muscles and bones. It is characterized by pain in the tendon that gets worse when you move.

Usually, SIRVA symptoms occur within a few days after vaccination. However, symptoms can also come on gradually. If you’re experiencing severe or lingering shoulder pain after a vaccination, don’t hesitate to tell a medical provider.

HOW IS SIRVA DIAGNOSED?

Unfortunately, many medical providers have not heard of SIRVA. Many doctors may diagnose SIRVA patients with the above injuries, and not consider that the underlying cause is a needle injury. If you doctor has never heard of SIRVA, we encourage you to print out journal articles to share with them.

Once your primary care physician examines you, you’ll likely be referred to an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in shoulder injuries. The orthopedist may order an MRI to determine how to treat you. The MRI will reveal any inflammation, fluid collection, swelling, or tears that are causing you pain.

TREATMENTS FOR SIRVA 

There is no standard treatment for SIRVA since each case is different. However, most people who suffer from SIRVA will require some type of medical intervention. Luckily there are a variety of treatments: 

  • Rest: Since SIRVA involves muscle inflammation, simply resting can lead to recovery. 

  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can help increase and improve your range of motion and speed up the healing process. 

  • Pain Medication: In some cases over the counter medicines like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce the pain. In other cases, a doctor may prescribe a stronger pain medicine. 

  • Steroid Injections: Your doctor may prescribe a steroid medicine as a way to suppress inflammation and pain. 

  • Surgery: SIRVA may cause a condition that can be aided by surgery. In these cases, an orthopedic surgeon will recommend a specific procedure.  

HOW TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR SIRVA 

Individuals who have suffered from SIRVA after receiving a covered vaccine can be compensated through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).  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 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.  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.  SIRVA is a common adverse reaction that can have serious effects on your day-to-day life. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries through the VICP. 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 ourConsumer's Guide to Vaccine-Related Injuries here.