As we are nearing the end of the 2017-2018 flu season, or at least survived the peak, we are finding that this record-breaking flu season resulted in more people receiving the flu shot. With little margin for error in administering the vaccination, we have seen a corresponding spike in shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). If you were one of the many millions who received the flu shot this season, you likely experienced the expected arm pain for a few to several days after you received the flu shot. But, if you experienced pain beyond what your doctor told you to expect, you might be suffering from a vaccine-related shoulder injury.
Signs of a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration
Vaccine administered high in the arm/shoulder
Pain that developed within 48 hours of the shot and has not tapered after a reasonable time
Pain and weakness in the affected arm
Loss of range of motion and/or pain in the affected shoulder
Awareness of SIRVA
The awareness of shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration is low. It was just 12 years ago (2006) that the first case study linking shoulder injuries to vaccine administration was published. The case study included a 71-year-old woman and an 89-year-old man, both in good health. Both were diagnosed with bursitis following a vaccination. When a vaccine is injected too high on the arm, the needle that is intended to be inserted in the arm muscle instead punctures the bursa (a fluid-filled sac that protects the surrounding tendons of the shoulder). This leads to pain, and sometimes a frozen shoulder. There is treatment for this sort of injury, but it is not 100% effective in all cases.