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Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), Flu Vaccine, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (Flu GBS), National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration or SIRVA

Vaccine Attorney Leah Durant Discusses Rare Side Effects of the Flu Shot and How to Obtain Compensation for Vaccine Injuries

Flickr, El Alvi

Flickr, El Alvi

One in five Americans will get the flu this year. That has serious consequences for the economy, which loses $87 billion annually to the flu, thanks to lost productivity and medical expenses.

Many people hoping to ward off the disease are getting flu shots.

The flu vaccine causes the body to create antibodies that provide protection against the three or four strains of flu projected to be the most common this year. These antibodies develop about two weeks after vaccination.

Flu shots can have side effects. They’re usually limited to manageable symptoms, such as headaches, sore throat, muscle aches, cough, and fever.

In some cases, however, the side effects are far more serious.

For example, flu vaccines can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a severe paralytic illness that requires immediate hospitalization. The symptoms include difficulty with facial movements — such as speaking, swallowing, or chewing — as well as labored breathing, difficulty walking, and “pins and needles” sensations in the hands and feet.

In rare cases, GBS can develop into Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, or CIDP. Symptoms include a loss of control over reflexes and a gradual weakening of the arms and legs. The neurological damage associated with CIDP can last for years.

Another possible side effect is Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration, or SIRVA. If a healthcare worker injects a vaccine at the wrong angle or too high up on the shoulder, a patient can develop SIRVA. Underweight patients or those with low body mass can also develop SIRVA if the vaccine’s needle over-penetrates their deltoid muscle.

Symptoms of SIRVA include weakness, limited motion, tenderness, and tingling. In rare cases, surgery is required to correct the damage.

Fortunately, those who suffer side effects from vaccines can turn to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program or VICP went into effect on October 1, 1988. Before then, individuals who suffered side effects because of vaccination had to sue manufacturers to have any hope of being compensated for their injuries.

That was problematic for two reasons.

First, the prospect of a costly lawsuit could cause some manufacturers to hold off on producing existing vaccines — or developing new ones. That would be bad news for public health, as vaccines are safe and effective at preventing disease for most folks.

On the other hand, there was no guarantee that those injured by vaccines pre-VICP would’ve won if they’d sued.

To protect both manufacturers and those injured by vaccines, Congress created the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It helps ensure that manufacturers continue producing vaccines — and that those injured by vaccines can get the compensation to which they’re entitled.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program covers many common vaccines, including tetanus, measles, seasonal flu, hepatitis A and B, HPV, and meningitis. Check out the vaccine injury compensation table, found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website for the most up-to-date list. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund is financed by an excise tax of 75 cents levied on every dose of these covered vaccines.

To obtain compensation from the VICP, a patient must follow several steps.

First, to qualify for the program, any injury from a vaccination must have lasted for at least six months or have required hospitalization or surgery.

Second, injured individuals must file a claim within three years of the first symptom of the injury. In the very rare case that the injury from a vaccine resulted in death, those who represent the deceased must file a claim within two years but no later than four years after the first symptom of the injury that caused the death.

Third, individuals must file the claim with the United States Court of Federal Claims where it is adjudicated by Special Masters from the Court. From a legal and medical standpoint, these cases are complicated. Representation by an attorney is therefore highly recommended.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is there to help those who need it.


If you have suffered from a negative shot reaction, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shoulder pain, or any other illness subsequent to receiving a flu vaccination, please contact us today. Vaccine attorney Leah Durant is available to provide you with a free telephone consultation. This vaccine attorney is a seasoned litigator whose practice is dedicated to serving those injured by vaccines.

About Leah Durant

Leah Durant is a former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney who specializes in vaccine injury claims covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. These cases are filed before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (more commonly known as the “vaccine court”) in Washington, DC, where she has been admitted to practice since 2008. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Leah Durant is a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park and received her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. Leah Durant’s legal practice concentrates on litigating complex vaccine injury and medical related cases. She has an extensive legal background and has experience representing individuals with complex medical claims.


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