Leah Durant | Vaccine Attorney - Vaccine Blog

Monday, June 20, 2022

10 Important Facts about Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and the Flu Shot

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a rare autoimmune disorder that has been linked to the annual flu shot. While GBS diagnoses resulting from flu immunizations are rare, the link is now well-established in medicine and in the law. With this in mind, here are 10 important facts about GBS and the flu vaccine:

Fact #1: The Annual Flu Shot is a Recognized Trigger for Guillain-Barre Syndrome

While the precise cause of Guillain-Barre Syndrome remains unknown, the flu shot is a recognized trigger for GBS. In other words, it is generally accepted in the medical community that a GBS diagnosis can result from a flu shot. This is true even though it is not yet known why this is the case.

When a flu shot triggers GBS, the flu shot recipient’s immune system attacks the nerve cells in the body. This can cause a wide range of symptoms—from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to loss of facial control and bladder control. While these symptoms can be managed in most cases, there is currently no known cure for GBS, and many flu shot recipients will experience relapses or chronic effects.

Fact #2: The Flu Shot Isn’t the Only Vaccine Known to Trigger GBS

The annual flu shot is not the only vaccine that is known to trigger GBS. Guillain-Barre Syndrome has been linked to the tetanus vaccines used in the United States as well. This includes:

  • DT

  • DTaP

  • DTP

  • Td

  • Tdap

Flu shot and tetanus vaccine recipients of all ages can experience Guillain-Barre Syndrome as a result of their immunizations. As a result, it is important for vaccine recipients and parents who get their children vaccinated to familiarize themselves with all of the symptoms of this disorder.

Fact #3: GBS Triggered By a Flu Shot Can Have Several Symptoms

As mentioned above, Guillain-Barre Syndrome triggered by a flu shot can have a wide range of symptoms. Along with changes in heart rate, changes in blood pressure, loss of facial control and loss of bladder control, other possible symptoms of GBS include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Difficulty walking or maintaining balance

  • Difficulty with bowel movements

  • Loss of motor control

  • Loss of reflexes

Anyone who experiences these symptoms (or whose child experiences these symptoms) following a flu shot should seek medical treatment promptly. Many of these symptoms can be dangerous, and prompt medical intervention can reduce the immediate risks and long-term effects of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in many cases.

Fact #4: GBS Triggered By a Flu Shot Can Lead to Several Complications

In addition to having several symptoms, GBS can also lead to several complications—and these, too, can vary widely. For example, individuals who experience a sudden drop in blood pressure or who have difficulty walking will be at greater risk for suffering traumatic injuries due to falls. Long term, Guillain-Barre Syndrome can also lead to respiratory dysfunction, sensory impairments, chronic pain and even paralysis in some cases.

Fact #5: The Financial Costs of GBS from a Flu Shot Can Be Substantial

Given the potential for long-term complications, the financial costs of Guillain-Barre Syndrome from a flu shot can be substantial. For many people, having GBS restricts their ability to work, and this results in loss of income as well. Over a person’s lifetime, the costs of GBS can easily climb into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Fortunately, these are costs that vaccine recipients and families will be able to recover in many cases.

Fact #6: The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) Covers GBS from Flu Vaccines

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that serves as a source of financial recovery for individuals and families who are coping with the effects of vaccine-related illnesses and injuries. This includes Guillain-Barre Syndrome from the flu shot. Under the VICP, eligible vaccine recipients and families can recover compensation for their current and future medical expenses and loss of income. The VICP pays up to $250,000 in additional compensation for vaccine recipients’ pain and suffering as well.

Fact #7: Proof of Causation Is Not Required to File a VICP Claim for GBS Following a Flu Vaccination

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is classified as an “on table” illness for the flu shot under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This means that GBS is presumed to have been triggered by the patient’s flu shot if the patient’s symptoms onset between 3 and 42 days following vaccination.

This presumption makes it much easier for eligible vaccine recipients, parents and other family members to file successful VICP claims. However, filing a VICP claim is a legal process; and, as the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) notes, “most people hire a lawyer.”  

Fact #8: Vaccine Recipients Have Three Years to File a VICP Claim for GBS from a Flu Shot

Most people are not aware of the VICP, and most people only learn of the VICP after researching options for covering the costs of vaccine-related GBS. Fortunately, vaccine recipients have up to three years to file a claim. This three-year period runs from the first symptom (or other “manifestation of onset”) of a vaccine recipient’s GBS. When GBS results in death, the vaccine recipient’s family has two years from the date of death to file a claim in most cases.

Fact #9: You Can Hire a Lawyer to Handle Your Flu Shot GBS Claim At No Cost

Not only is it a good idea to hire a lawyer to handle your flu shot GBS claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, but you can do so at no cost. This is because the VICP pays claimants’ legal fees separately from their compensation awards.

Fact #10: A GBS Diagnosis Can Have Lifelong Consequences

From physical impairments to chronic pain, and from ongoing medical expenses to loss of income, a GBS diagnosis can truly have lifelong consequences. As a result, we strongly encourage anyone who is coping with GBS resulting from a flu vaccine to speak with a lawyer about their legal rights.

Contact Us about Your GBS and Flu Vaccine Injury Claim

If you would like to know more about filing a claim for GBS resulting from a flu vaccination, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us at 202-800-1711 or contact us online to speak with vaccine attorney Leah V. Durant in confidence.


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 her staff 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.


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