Most adults receive a vaccination each year that is intended to build immunity to the anticipated strain of the flu for that year. While many of these vaccinations are given to patients without any injuries or side effects, there are always cases each year in which patients do suffer some sort of lasting harm from the vaccination
Have you received a flu shot this season? Here, you will find information about flu vaccine injuries and what you can do if you have been harmed by the vaccination that you received.
Did you experience negative side effects or injury from your flu shot? You may be entitled to compensation. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program provides compensation for those who have suffered harm from flu vaccines. It is a federal government program that is funded by a tax that is paid on every vaccination that is sold.
When you file a claim with the VICP, you may be able to receive compensation, depending on the findings of your case. The money comes directly from the fund, and you do not need to worry about suing the vaccine manufacturer or the person who administered the vaccine. The VICP is a streamlined process that is designed to provide compensation to individuals who are harmed by various vaccines.
Flu Vaccine Side Effects
Flu vaccinations can cause a variety of different injuries, some of which are more significant than others. Nonetheless, if there has been an injury, you may be able to receive compensation for it. The injuries can result from either the way that the vaccination was administered or the patient’s reaction to the components of the vaccine. Here are some the injuries that are caused by the flu vaccine:
SIRVA – When the flu vaccine is administered incorrectly to the wrong part of the shoulder, there is a reaction that can result in a permanent loss of motion in the shoulder.
Nerve Damage – When the injection is given incorrectly and in the wrong place, there can be a similar feeling to a knot in the shoulder which is actually damage to the nerves.
Guillan Barre Syndrome – This is an injury that someone will get after they have had an infection and it results in the body’s immune system attacking the central nervous system.
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy – This is another injury where the body attacks its own nervous system, this time by stripping away the nerve covering.
Severe Allergic Reactions – Some of the vaccine components may cause a severe allergic reaction that can even cause death if it is not treated in time.
PTS – Parsonage-Turner Syndrome is when a certain set of nerves becomes inflamed, resulting in a loss of motion in the shoulders and arms.
Other Injuries – Patients can also suffer from other complications of flu vaccines such as seizures, Transverse myelitis, Neuromyelitis optica and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis
Shoulder Injuries Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)
Not too long ago, the term SIRVA was barely recognized throughout the U.S. As more people receive flu vaccinations, SIRVA is now a common injury. In fact, the VICP only recently recognized it as a compensable injury from a flu vaccination, but it is now the most common reason listed as cause for compensation when the VICP grants requests for payment.
SIRVA is primarily caused when a vaccination is given in the wrong part of the shoulder. Specifically, when the shot is given directly to the deltoid bursa or joint space, it may cause lasting complications for the patient. The flu vaccine is supposed to be administered at the midpoint of the deltoid muscle, at the thickest part. However, sometimes the vaccination is given too high, and when it is, there will be shoulder pain almost immediately after the injection. Not only must the injection be given in the right place, but the injection should also rely upon a needle of the proper length.
SIRVA can involve damage to the nerves, muscle, tendons and ligaments. There will likely be inflammation that is associated with the condition that may go away slowly, if it ever does. The trauma to the shoulder from the inflammation and damage may cause the patient to never fully regain the motion in their shoulder. Other times, there is the need for extensive therapy to reverse the effects of SIRVA.
The prevalence of this condition results in part from the fact that many who give the injection are not properly trained. Since flu shots are now given outside of the physician’s office, there may be people injecting patients who have not had the full course of training necessary, such as where in the shoulder to give the shot. Many are turning away from injections solely because of SIRVA and switching to a flu mist in order to avoid lasting damage to their shoulder.
Those who are experiencing shoulder pain after their injection cannot automatically assume that the origin of the pain is SIRVA. There are other neuromuscular injuries that can result from flu vaccinations. There is another type of harm that is called injection-induced axillary nerve injury.
Like SIRVA, nerve damage generally results from an error in the manner of injection by the technician. This is a preventable occurrence that could be eradicated if all technicians were properly trained in injection techniques. In one documented occurrence of axillary nerve injury after a flu vaccine, the patient received the injection at a drive-through clinic. The man felt severe pain immediately after the injection and complained of feeling a knot in his shoulder for weeks afterwards. After five weeks, he was no longer able to lift his arm. Upon examination, his deltoid muscle had atrophied.
Patients will experience symptoms similar to SIRVA such as pain in the shoulder and loss of motion. An axiallry nerve injury will also result in a tingling and weakness in the shoulder. You may not be able to lift any objects or lift your arms over your head. This may result in a reduction of your ability to perform your daily activities. In most cases, those who have axillary nerve injuries will require surgery if an attempt to treat the condition with medication is not successful.
Besides haphazard injections, nerve damage can result from a number of other things such as chemical irritation and toxic action of the injected solution. Patients can also experience needle trauma even if the vaccine injection is properly administered. Nerve injury is a serious complication and it is happening in greater numbers as more people receive flu vaccine injections from places where technicians may not be adequately trained.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)
Guillan-Barre Syndrome is another form of nerve injury that can result from a flu vaccine. This type of injury can be much more serious than simple nerve damage. Severe cases of GBS can lead to permanent injury, including paralysis.
GBS can occur after the body has experienced an infection. Although there is no documented reason why there is a link between GBS and the flu vaccine, one theory is that the vaccine introduces an infection into the body through the form of live or attenuated virus and then GBS results from the aftermath. One of the most common causes of GBS is the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni. Those who had actually had the flu have a slight risk of developing GBS in the weeks after their illness.
GBS occurs when the body’s immune system misdirects and attacks the central nervous system. This causes muscle weakness and it may result in paralysis. GBS symptoms can last for several weeks, but even after the condition goes away, there can be lasting damage to the nervous system. Some patients may fully recover, while others may require intensive therapy over an extended period of time to regain as much of their ability as possible.
In rare instances, GBS can actually cause death. This occurs in between five to ten percent of GBS cases, and the chances of fatality increase based on the age of the patient. When this happens, it is because the illness has caused breathing difficulty. There are an additional one to two cases of GBS each year that are reported in people who have had the flu vaccine. Given that nearly have the population in this country are now being vaccinated each year for the flu, this means that there can be several hundred cases of GBS each year that result from these vaccines.
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
CIDP is another injury to the nervous system and has some similarities to the condition of GBS described above. Like GBS, CIDP occurs when the immune system causes a reaction that attacks the central nervous system. For this specific disease, the covering of the nerves is attacked, and the nerves will lose their protective sheath. It will also cause nerve damage that can result in weakness and paralysis. In extreme cases, CIPD can cause death by impacting the respiratory system.
Unlike GBS, CIPD does not necessarily have an underlying illness that ultimately causes this condition. However, with regard to the flu vaccine, there is the possibility that CIPD results because it is the body’s response to an invading organism. It is the flu vaccine that has introduced the virus into the body. In plainer terms, the body knows that it needs to fight something, but then it turns its attention to the wrong thing when it turns on its own nervous system.
While CIPD is somewhat related to GBS, it is not as acute as GBS. Instead, it is more of a chronic condition that is persistent. There will not necessarily be an acute onset of CIPD, instead, the condition will slowly worsen over time. It will generally start in the legs and then spread throughout the body. While GBS can eventually go away over time, CIPD affects the patient for longer. In some cases, it requires a complicated type of blood therapy to remove antibodies from the bloodstream. The patient may require multiple rounds of this treatment. Then, the patient may require extensive physical therapy in order to recover from CIPD.
Severe Allergic Reactions (Anaphylaxis)
In some cases, the patient may experience a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. This acute allergic reaction may require immediate emergency treatment. Otherwise, the patient’s life may be at risk. This is similar to an acute allergic reaction after consuming peanuts or a bee sting. Any patient who is having what they believe to be an allergic reaction needs to immediately contact a healthcare provider to rule out the possibility that they may be experiencing anaphylaxis.
There may be a variety of different factors that are responsible for the allergic reaction. In some cases, the reaction comes from the fact that the patient is allergic to some of the vaccine components. For example, flu vaccines will generally contain egg products. A small percent of the population is known to have allergies to eggs, and some cases may be extreme. However, some may not know yet that they are allergic to eggs or may not be aware that there is egg in flu vaccines. In addition, there are various other substances in flu vaccines that can either act as a stabilizer or help neutralize the virus.
One of the issues with anaphylaxis is that children receive flu vaccines. However, their allergies may not be known at the time that they are given the injection. A severe reaction to the vaccination may be the first time their parents learn of their allergy.
Anaphylaxis may result from one to two times for every million vaccinations. While this does not seem like a lot, there are over 100 million flu vaccines administered in the United States every day. This reaction can occur after any vaccination. It is critical to know your risk factors prior to receiving a vaccination. If you have allergies, it is important to know exactly what your allergies are to avoid an unexpected severe reaction.
Parsonage-turner Syndrome (PTS)
PTS is another condition that affects the shoulder that can come as a result of a vaccination. Unlike SIRVA and axillary nerve injury, PTS apparently is not caused by human error on the part of the person administering the vaccination. Instead, there is a reaction that results after the vaccination is given. Some patients have a genetic predisposition to this condition and it can be triggered by the contents of the vaccine.
PTS is a condition where the nerves that lead from your spinal cord to your chest and arms become inflamed. This affects the signals that the nerves send to these parts of the body. In addition to the damage done to the nerves, PTS will be followed by atrophy in the surrounding muscle.
PTS will result in sudden and sharp shoulder pain. The discomfort is severe and debilitating and is generally worse in the morning. While PTS will generally only affect one side of the body, there are cases where both sides can be impacted. Acute PTS symptoms can generally last for up to a month. In some rare cases, the acute symptoms will persist beyond that.
Even when the pain recedes, there will still be a residual effect. Only about a third of patients recover fully within a year. By the end of year three, almost 90 percent of patients will be nearly fully recovered. However, nearly everyone who has PTS will experience some symptoms in the long-term.
From 2012 to 2018, there were 12 compensable cases of PTS resulting from vaccinations. These resulted in monetary awards ranging from $62,000 to nearly $800,000. The larger damage awards result from the fact that the pain is so severe that patients may be unable to work for a period of time.
Transverse myelitis is another injury that can result from a flu vaccine. This is an inflammation of the spinal cord that acts to interrupt the messages that it directs to the rest of the body. The inflammation is caused by a reaction to the vaccine. This is a rare but serious side effect. It starts with back pain and weakness and can rapidly worsen. Since the spinal cord is involved, paralysis may result. According to a study, there have been nearly 40 cases of this disease associated with all types of vaccinations, which is an average of about one each year. This disease is incurable, and the treatment is generally aimed at managing the disease.
Neuromyelitis optica is another condition with inflammation of the spinal cord. It will generally develop two to three weeks after the initial vaccination. It can cause pain and numbness in the arms and feet. Eventually, the patient may begin to experience problems with their vision. When a patient experiences this, the symptoms will start slowly and grow progressively worse very quickly and intensive care may be necessary. Only recently have cases begun to emerge that have alleged a connection between flu vaccines and neuromyelitis optica. This is a rather severe side effect of the flu vaccine since the disease will continue to relapse over the course of the patient’s lifetime.
Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis is another condition that results in inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord. This condition can follow an infection, and the flu vaccine introduces the virus into the body. Symptoms of this include fever, fatigue, headache, nausea and vomiting, and the condition can progress to seizures and coma in the worst cases. About one in 20 cases of this rare condition are generally attributed to a vaccine. There are several different vaccines, including the flu vaccine, which can cause this.
Vaccine Injury Lawyer
Most people who files petitions with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program do so with the assistance of the attorney. While the forum does provide you with streamlined procedures for your claim, there are still specialized procedures that not every claimant would know. The VICP rules provide that a settlement or other compensation can include reasonable attorney’s fees. Thus, it is helpful to have an expert in vaccine injury claims when filing a petition for compensation.
The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates are recognized experts in the field of vaccine injury compensation. Established in 2008, we have handled claims for many different vaccine related injuries. Our founding partner, Mark Sadaka has represented over 180 people who have suffered vaccine related injuries. We know the vaccine court system and its specialized rules quite well and we represent clients across the country. Our vaccine injury practice is nationwide so we can represent you no matter where you are. We know the procedures of the vaccine courts well and we have a deep understanding of the science behind the vaccine injuries due to our expertise in the area.
The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates are a nationally recognized plaintiffs’ law firm who have recovered millions of dollars for our clients in defective products cases. We fight for our clients’ legal rights when they have suffered an injury from a medical device or pharmaceutical. We are known as a dedicated and persistent legal advocate.
About the Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is administered as an injection of through other forms such as a mist. It is a combination of virus components that are designed to help you build immunity to whatever the expected strain of the flu will be for that season. The flu vaccine, by introducing parts of the virus into your body, is intended to help you build antibodies in your body to resist influenza. Even if you do get the flu after a vaccination, studies that show that vaccinated people recover more quickly since you build resistance to the flu in general, even if the vaccine does not contain the strain that you contracted. It is recommended to receive a vaccination before each flu season since the components of the vaccine vary from year to year. While the flu vaccine does work to prevent the flu, there are also a number of possible side effects that can occur after receiving the vaccination.
Flu Vaccine Ingredients
The flu vaccine will generally contain either live virus or inactivated virus. Either way, some part of the influenza virus must be in the vaccine in order to help you build the antibodies necessary to fight the flu. The particular strain of the virus that is in the flu vaccine changes every year.
Of course, you cannot have an injection consisting solely of live virus so there are additives and fillers that are combined with the virus in order to make the vaccine. If you were to receive a straight injection of the flu virus, you would likely contract influenza.
One of the primary ingredients of the flu vaccine is egg protein. This requires those who are allergic to either avoid the vaccination or receive a modified version. There are other forms of preservatives and stabilizers necessary to keep the vaccine from growing bacteria and to keep it effective even in the heat and light. Vaccines will also generally contain an emulsifier to keep it from separating and formaldehyde to inactivate the flu vaccine. (This last sentence is unclear and possibly innacurate. Formaldehyde is a preservative. Please research further the role of formaldehyde in the flu vaccine.)
Additives and stabilizers often have beneficial effects when it comes to the vaccine, but some people may be allergic to components of the flu vaccine, which can result in the complications listed above.
Flu Vaccine Injury Statistics
While flu vaccines are generally regarded to be safe, there are reports of injuries every year from those who have experienced complications. Here are some statistics regarding flu vaccine injuries:
In general, there were 2,893 cases in which the VICP paid compensation to those who suffered injury from flu vaccines from the years 2006 to 2017. These numbers have increased since the VICP recognized SIRVA as a compensable injury. There were 166 total claims with the VICP that alleged death as the result of the flu vaccine.
Based on recent statistics, there are roughly 200 cases of SIRVA that have resulted in compensation paid from the VICP. Of course, these are just compensable cases, and the complication is not always reported so the actual rate may be higher.
When it comes to Guillan Barre Syndrome, there are no firm numbers, but the estimated rate of the side effect is one case of GBS for every million flu vaccines administered.
For anaphylaxis, there were 33 confirmed vaccine-triggered cases over a three-year period, although this study was not limited solely to flu vaccines. There have been 37 reported cases over a 40-year period that have resulted from vaccines.
Reporting a Flu Shot Injury
A flu shot injury should be reported so that the regulators have the most recent information about the injuries that result from a vaccine. The FDA maintains a database that collects information about vaccine complications. This database is called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. It was established to detect possible safety problems from vaccines. If you have experienced any side effect after receiving a vaccination, this should be reported to VAERS, even if you have not pinpointed the vaccine as the cause of the complication. Parents, patients and healthcare providers are allowed to report vaccine injuries to VAERS.
Reporting a vaccine injury does not automatically act as proof of the injury or as evidence that the vaccine caused the injury. However, reporting the injury does give the FDA information that it needs to track injuries that result from a particular vaccine. If there is a common safety concern that is becoming apparent through numerous injury reports, the CDC and FDA could take action.
There are several different ways to report injuries to the VAERS. The first, and easiest way, is to report the injury on their online reporting system. Or, you can fill out in your information on a writeable PDF form and submit it to VAERS.
Note that when you report a vaccine injury to VAERS, you are making a statement to the federal government, and there are legal ramifications to this. You must make sure that your report is accurate because you can face legal consequences if it is not. Note that your VAERS report cannot be used to deny you compensation from the VICP. The federal government uses VAERS to encourage people to easily file information about vaccine injuries.
Compensation for Flu Vaccine Injury
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was legislated by Congress in order to streamline the compensation process for these complications. The intention was both to protect manufacturers from crushing legal liability as well as to make it easier for people to receive compensation for their injuries in order to not dissuade them from receiving vaccines.
Claims are filed directly with the fund as opposed to going through the general court system. There is a special vaccine injury court that is associated with the United States Court of Federal Claims. In order to begin the compensation process, you must file a petition with Court of Federal Claims. The petition sets forth the facts related to your injury and can also include your medical records.
In many instances, the Department of Health and Human Services will review your filing and decide to try to settle the case. Most cases in front of the VICP result in some form of a settlement. Of course, you would have to agree to the terms of the settlement and you may not feel that the compensation offer is fair. If there is no settlement and your petition is not dismissed, there will be a hearing in front of a special master who primarily hears vaccine cases. The special master will then issue a decision about whether you are entitled to compensation and how much you should receive. Over a 12 year period, roughly 70 percent of the petitions filed with the VICP have resulted in some sort of compensation for the petitioner.