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The most common types of vaccine injuries you need to know

Receiving injections from doctors or nurses is commonplace. During their lifetime, most people receive a range of injections from vaccinations to epidurals. But a needle in the wrong place can lead to more than just discomfort or a sore arm.

Many studies have been published — and many opinions expressed — on the possible side effects of vaccinations, but much less about the possible side effects of a badly administered injection.

“The most common vaccine-related injury is shoulder injury related to vaccine administration,” says Leah Durant, principal attorney at the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a law firm specializing in vaccine law and in representing clients in vaccine injury claims covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). “These injuries result from the faulty administration of vaccines rather than from the vaccine’s contents.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the NVICP was created in the 1980s as a “no-fault alternative to the traditional legal system for resolving vaccine injury petitions. The program may provide financial compensation to individuals who file a petition and are found to have been injured by a NVICP-covered vaccine.”

Who is most in danger?

Research indicates that individuals with low body weight and those who are seated when receiving the vaccination (while the health care administrator is standing) may be more prone to shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). These injuries occur because the needle penetrates too deeply or too high up on the shoulder.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the proposed mechanism of injury is the “unintentional injection of antigenic material into synovial tissues resulting in an immune-mediated inflammatory reaction.”

Common clinical characteristics of SIRVA include the absence of a history of prior shoulder dysfunction, the rapid onset of pain and limited range of motion.

“Education and training are key to preventing SIRVA injuries,” says Durant. “Care must be taken to ensure the injections are administered into the muscle when required, and at a 90-degree angle to the skin. Health professionals need to remain knowledgeable about the anatomy of the shoulder, and should also consider the weight and body mass of the recipient, and avoid giving injections that are too high up on the shoulder.”

Possible side effects

Durant says the list of possible side effects from improperly administered injections in the shoulder include:

• Immediate sharp, or stabbing, pain in the shoulder. • Inflammation. • Loss or reduced range of motion. • Adhesive capsulitis (also known as frozen shoulder, characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint). • Rotator cuff tears or injuries (damage to the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, causing dull pain and lack of motion). • Bursitis (a painful condition caused by inflammation of the bursae — small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near joints). • Tendinitis (pain and tenderness caused by inflammation or irritation of a tendon — the thick fibrous cords that attaches muscle to bone). • Brachial neuritis (acute shoulder pain, followed by paralysis of shoulder and parascapular muscles). Treatment to counteract these side effects runs the gamut from cortisone injections, pain medication, rest and physical therapy to surgical repair and joint replacement. If left untreated, the patient can experience continued pain, decreased range of motion, internal scarring and even paralysis.

Seeking compensation

Durant advises that individuals who feel they or a loved one are suffering from a poorly administered injection and wish to recover compensation should contact a doctor immediately, inform them about their recent vaccination history, and then contact a qualified vaccine attorney to discuss their rights.

“The vaccine act requires petitioners to have suffered side effects for at least six months,” she explains. “However, individuals should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. The statute of limitations is three years for all vaccine injuries and two years for all vaccine related deaths.”

The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC has been successful in helping individuals obtain compensation for cases of shoulder injury linked to the improper administration of vaccines. Although located in Washington, the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is capable of representing clients from all 50 states and U.S. territories.

For more information about SIRVA, visit

Joe Yogerst for Law Offices of Leah V. Durant PLLC

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