It is common to experience side effects like a sore arm or a low grade fever from a vaccination. However, you should be aware that vaccines can cause shoulder injury related to vaccination (SIRVA) when administered incorrectly.

Common Contributing Factors

The most common contributing factors include administration of the vaccine in the upper one-third of the deltoid muscle and injection deep enough to pass through the muscle to the underlying tissues. Approximately 80% of individuals who sustain SIRVA are female with a low body mass index which is a risk factor because of smaller muscle mass. Injecting the vaccine into the wrong part of the arm initiates an inflammatory response which damages structure in the shoulder like tendons and bursa.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptoms of SIRVA are shoulder pain and reduced range of motion. The most common diagnoses tend to be shoulder bursitis, adhesive capsulitis (known as frozen shoulder) and rotator cuff tears.

Best Vaccination Practices

SIRVA can be prevented by administration of intramuscular vaccines into the middle of the deltoid muscle at a 90 degree angle using an appropriate length needle.

When you get your vaccine, you should wear a sleeveless shirt or shirt that can be removed in order to reveal the entire shoulder. Rolling up the sleeve may prevent the person administering the vaccine from seeing all the landmarks necessary to administer the vaccine appropriately.

SIRVA Diagnosis and Treatment

People experiencing symptoms should talk to their health care provider. To diagnose SIRVA, an ultrasound scan or MRI is needed which can also determine the level and type of damage. Common treatments for SIRVA include life style and work modifications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy. If these conservative treatments do not work, steroid injections may help and surgery may be recommended in more severe cases.

SIRVA Claims

Claims for SIRVA must be filed in the Vaccine Court, part of the United States Court of Federal Claims. Compensation for shoulder injuries in the Vaccine Court include pain and suffering up to $250,000, out of pocket medical expenses, and wage loss. Vaccine attorney’s fees and costs are paid separately by the Court and are not taken out of your compensation.

The most recent data by the Department of Health and Human Services from July of 2020 indicates that shoulder injury cases made up 52.6% of all claims over the last three years. It is important to note that while SIRVA claims make up the majority of claims filed with the Vaccine Court, they are still statistically rare. It is important to know that this injury can occur and what the symptoms are so that people can seek appropriate treatment. If you have suffered from a shoulder injury from a vaccine you should contact a vaccine lawyer to assist you in filing a claim if appropriate.

If you have questions about a vaccine injury, contact Kathleen Loucks at 612-336-9348 or to discuss how to proceed.