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National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration or SIRVA

More than Just a Pinch

For years, doctors have told patients that a shot feels like a “quick pinch” on the shoulder. Sometimes, though, that “pinch” can lead to serious injury.

In rare situations, a vaccination can cause Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration. Known as SIRVA, this injury has been in the news lately. CBS recently reported a story about a man whose flu shot left him with a stiff left arm and a medicine cabinet filled with painkillers. Another flu shot gone wrong forced a woman to undergo shoulder surgery.

While soreness after an injection is normal, SIRVA symptoms are more serious. They can include limited range of motion, severe arm/shoulder pain, and shoulder dysfunction.

SIRVA occurs when the vaccine needle is accidentally injected into the area underneath the deltoid muscle, injuring musculoskeletal structures such as ligaments and tendons. SIRVA can also be the result if a healthcare provider uses a needle that’s too long.

In other words, SIRVA is caused by faulty vaccine administration, not the contents of that vaccine.

There are various ways for providers to avoid accidentally giving a patient SIRVA. Preliminary research calls for patients and doctors to be seated, and therefore parallel to each other, during injections. The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association has published a vaccine update about shot-related dangers that explicitly points out the safest way to perform vaccinations.

Educational materials like these are crucial. Doctors and nurses need to develop best practices for administering shots. At the same time, patients need to be aware that, though rare, vaccine-related shoulder injuries can and do happen.

Physical therapy can help reduce the symptoms of SIRVA, but those who suffer from it often still experience pain after treatment. In some cases, the damage to a patient’s shoulder is so severe that surgery is needed.

Luckily, Congress created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program as a means of financially compensating individuals who have experienced vaccine side effects.

Patients with vaccine-related shoulder injuries can now turn to the federal government to receive cash awards to compensate them for their injuries.

To view an updated list of all vaccines covered by VICP, visit the vaccine injury compensation table on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In rare cases, a vaccination can lead to long-term, severe shoulder pain. But if it does, the VICP offers victims a shoulder to lean on.


If you have suffered from a negative shot reaction, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shoulder pain, or any other illness subsequent to receiving a vaccination, please contact an attorney 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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