As with all types of injected vaccines, the annual flu shot carries the potential for Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA). These are injuries that result not from an adverse reaction to the vaccine itself, but rather from mistakes made during the injection of the vaccine. Despite clear and publicly-available protocols for proper administration of the flu shot, mistakes are common, and approximately half of all vaccine injury claims filed under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) involve claims for SIRVA.
So, where should the flu shot be administered to avoid the risk of SIRVA?
Intramuscular (IM) Injection
The flu shot is administered via an intramuscular (IM) injection. This means that the needle must penetrate all layers of the skin so that the vaccine can be injected into the muscle tissue. To do this, the person administering the vaccine must use a needle that is at least five-eighths of an inch in length, with needles up to an inch in length being used for larger children and adults. In order to ensure adequate muscle penetration, the needle must be inserted at 90 degrees to the surface of the skin.
The proper injection site for the flu shot is the deltoid muscle (although children may also receive flu shots in the thigh). The deltoid is located at the top of the arm and forms the rounded contour of the outside of the shoulder. In order to ensure that the needle is not inserted too high on the shoulder or too low on the arm, individuals receiving vaccines (and the health professionals administering their vaccines) should ensure that the entire deltoid muscle is exposed. Injections below the deltoid (in the biceps muscle) in the back of the arm (in the triceps muscle) and on the top of the shoulder (above the collar bone) all carry the risk for SIRVA.
Warning Signs of SIRVA
The first warning sign of a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration is an improper injection site. A flu shot administered anywhere other than the deltoid has the potential to cause SIRVA. However, injections into the deltoid muscle can cause injuries as well (for example, if the needle is inserted too deep or at the wrong angle), so it is important not to rule out SIRVA even if it appears that the vaccine was injected in the proper location.
The next major warning sign of SIRVA is usually pain. While a moderate amount of pain at the injection site is normal, severe pain, pain that extends beyond the injection site, and pain that worsens over time are all potential signs of SIRVA. Other common symptoms of SIRVA include:
- Muscle weakness
- Limited range of motion
- Loss of mobility
Speak With National Vaccine Lawyer Leah V. Durant
If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA), you may be entitled to payment under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Our firm provides no-cost legal representation for VICP claims nationwide. To learn more in a free and confidential consultation, please call 202-800-1711 or request an appointment online today.
Leah Durant Bio
Experienced litigation attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and the other attorneys in her firm represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.