SIRVA: An Unexpected Vaccine Side-Effect
Vaccinations are not new. Most of us receive regular flu or tetanus shots. As a result, we’re all familiar with the typical pain, swelling and redness around the injection site which can sometimes take a few days to subside. These are common side effects.
However, not all side effects from vaccinations are common. In fact, there’s one particular side effect that isn’t supposed to happen and is avoidable. That side effect is called Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA).
What is SIRVA?
SIRVA is a condition in which pain and loss of function in the shoulder occurs following a vaccination. SIRVA can result in shoulder pain, weakness, stiffness, or nerve inflammation. It can even be permanent.
When does SIRVA occur?
SIRVA occurs when a doctor, nurse or pharmacist improperly landmarks the shoulder and injects the needle too high in the arm into the subdeltoid bursa or shoulder capsule instead of the deltoid.
How can SIRVA be avoided?
Health care providers who administer vaccines need to use proper landmarking techniques. If they fail to do so, they may have fallen below the standard of care and could be liable for the injuries sustained.
What are the symptoms of SIRVA?
The most common symptoms of SIRVA is intermittent or persistent pain experienced within 48 hours following a shot. The pain may result in low mobility in the injured arm, inflammation and shoulder pain.
What is the treatment for SIRVA?
You should consult with your doctor to discuss the right treatment options for your injury. Your doctor may recommend rest, medication, steroid injections, physiotherapy or surgery depending on the severity of your condition.
Am I entitled to compensation for SIRVA?
If you or someone you know believe you have sustained SIRVA, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer. You have rights and may be eligible for financial compensation.
Reference: Dr. Barnes, Dr. Ledford, Dr. Hogan, A Needling Problem: Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration, Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 2012
Casey Dorey is an associate lawyer at Bergeron Clifford LLP. He works primarily in Kingston but travels across Eastern Ontario.
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