Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration Reported More Frequently


At one time, experiencing shoulder injuries as a result of receiving a vaccination injection was rare enough that it hadn’t even earned a name classifying it as a real condition. In recent years, however, incidences of this occurring have steadily risen and today these types of injuries are classified under the umbrella term of SIRVA, or shoulder injury related to vaccine administration. While it is normal to receive a certain amount of soreness, following any type of shot, SIRVA involves prolonged manifestations of muscle stiffness and increased pain around the injection site.

How Does SIRVA Happen?

Many people still haven’t heard of SIRVA and even most doctors are still unaware of the possibility of this kind of vaccination injury occurring. That’s because research on the condition is fairly new with the first study on SIRVA having been released as recently as 2006. Later studies have now corroborated the findings of that first report and one study published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is particularly compelling.

The research has found that a SIRVA injury can occur, if the injection is administered too high on the arm. This is because the needle can puncture the bursa, a sac filled with fluid that acts to protect the arm’s tendons. When a vaccine is properly injected into the muscle of the arm, it provokes the immune system to act against the targeted illness. However, when the bursa is punctured, the vaccine causes the immune system to go after the bursa itself. This results in extreme pain and can cause the patient to feel as if the shoulder is frozen.

In some cases, SIRVA is treatable. A regimen of steroids and physical therapy can sometimes lead to full recovery, but, in other cases, the damage can be too severe.

The rise in incidences of SIRVA has not been attributed to any one factor, but, instead, may be the result of multiple causes. One factor involves a lack of standardized training for those administering the shots. This leads into a second factor, which is the easy availability of shots delivered by non-caregivers. Vaccines are now widely available in pharmacies on a walk-in basis. There are no examinations. The individual walks in, completes some paperwork, and gets a jab in the arm. This type of hasty service is thought to increase the chances of mistakes happening.

SIRVA Lawsuits are also on the Rise

Along with the increase of SIRVA cases, there has also been an overall rise in SIRVA lawsuits in the past few years. While most medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits are heard in state or federal courts, the Office of Special Masters of the US Court of Federal Claims is responsible for overseeing all cases involving vaccine injuries and that court reports having settled a significant number of cases related to shoulder injuries related to vaccine administrations. Since 2011, the court has awarded settlements to 112 plaintiffs in SIRVA cases, though most of those cases were settled in the past 12 months. In light of the relatively high number of cases, the U.S. government has now added SIRVA to the Vaccine Injury Table. For conditions on this list, getting compensation is often easier and less complicated, which indicates the government’s concern that SIRVA is still a growing problem.

This adds legitimacy to the condition, which many healthcare providers have been previously unwilling to take at face value. In the past, doctors haven’t taken patient concerns or complaints seriously, but they’re now compelled to look harder at possible cases of SIRVA. This means developing new treatments and working towards more efficient ways of repairing the damages caused by improperly administered vaccinations.

Learn more about Shoulder Injuries Related to Vaccine Administration.


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