Leah Durant | Vaccine Attorney - Vaccine Blog

Monday, March 11, 2024

5 Risks Associated with the Annual Flu Shot

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider the annual flu shot to be safe for most people, and the CDC recommends that the vast majority of Americans get a flu shot each year. According to the CDC, “the flu vaccines have an excellent safety profile[, h]undreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines for more than 50 years and the body of scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports their safety.”

But, like all vaccines the flu shot presents certain risks. The CDC acknowledges this as well, identifying various side effects as well as a few long-term risks. Additionally, data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) show that flu vaccine injury claims are by far the most common claims filed under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

The Most Common Flu Vaccine Injury Claims Under the VICP

What are the risks associated with the annual flu shot? Here are five of the most common reasons why flu shot recipients file claims under the VICP:

1. Anaphylaxis (Severe Allergic Reaction)

Anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction, is among the most significant risks associated with getting the flu shot for some recipients. While the vast majority of flu shot recipients are not allergic to any of the vaccine’s ingredients, some individuals—including those who have egg allergies—may experience adverse outcomes.

As listed by the CDC, signs of anaphylaxis following a flu shot usually appear within “a few minutes to a few hours.” These signs may include:

  • Breathing problems

  • Dizziness

  • Hives

  • Hoarseness

  • Increased heart rate

  • Pale skin

  • Weakness

  • Wheezing

When a flu shot recipient shows signs of a severe allergic reaction, it is important to seek treatment promptly. Anaphylaxis can be a medical emergency in some cases. Under the VICP, flu shot recipients who experience a severe allergic reaction (and parents of children who experience severe allergic reactions) can obtain financial compensation for their medical expenses and other losses.

2. Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a rare autoimmune disorder without a precise known cause and with no known cure. However, while the precise cause of GBS remains unknown, it has been linked to the flu shot and certain other vaccines, and it is covered under the VICP when a flu shot recipient’s symptoms onset between 3 and 42 days following vaccination.

The effects of Guillain-Barre Syndrome can be severe. However, all patients react to GBS differently, and treatment modalities can have varying rates of success. Since there is no known cure, treatment typically focuses on symptom management, and recurrence is always a possibility. Early signs of GBS can include:

  • Breathing problems

  • Difficulty walking or maintaining balance

  • Difficulty with bowel and bladder control

  • Loss of reflexes, facial control and eye control

  • Pain radiating from the arms or hands toward the center of the body

  • Sudden changes in heart rate or blood pressure

  • Tingling or weakness that starts in the legs and radiating toward the center of the body

Similar to anaphylaxis, vaccine recipients and parents who have concerns about Guillain-Barre Syndrome following a flu shot should consult with their doctors promptly. While GBS generally isn’t life-threatening, prompt intervention has proven effective in mitigating its effects in some cases.

3. Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a variant of Guillain-Barre Syndrome that can have a variety of long-term effects. Similar to GBS, CIDP usually is not fatal; however, it can lead to respiratory failure in some cases.

The early warning signs of CIDP are similar to those of GBS. In some cases, it will not be possible to distinguish between these two medical conditions initially. However, the symptoms of both can generally be managed with the same forms of treatment, and both are covered for the flu shot under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

4. Parsonage-Turner Syndrome (Brachial Neuritis)

Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, also known as brachial neuritis, is a flu shot-related injury that disrupts the nerve signals traveling between the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body. This disruption can cause pain, weakness, limpness and loss of sensation. It can also cause partial paralysis in some cases.

Most flu shot recipients who are diagnosed with Parsonage-Turner Syndrome will first experience severe pain in the upper arm where the flu shot was administered. Many patients describe this as a burning sensation. While the symptoms of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome can be managed and will typically go away on their own, patients’ symptoms can persist for months or years.

5. Shoulder Injuries Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)

Shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) are the most common type of VICP claim we handle. It is easily the most common type of flu vaccine injury we see, and there is a simple reason why. While the medical conditions discussed above all have to do with how individuals react to the flu shot, SIRVA result from errors during flu shot administration. As a result, they are a risk for all flu vaccine recipients.

SIRVA is not a single type of injury, but rather a class of inflammatory conditions and other injuries caused by issues such as inserting the needle at the wrong angle or too high on the shoulder. Forms of SIRVA include:

  • Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)

  • Rotator cuff tears

  • Shoulder bursitis

  • Tendonitis

All forms of SIRVA are covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program when a vaccine recipient’s symptoms onset within 48 hours of vaccination. While different forms of SIRVA have different symptoms, shoulder pain that doesn’t go away (or that gets worse instead of better) is usually the first sign that a medical diagnosis is needed.

Do You Have a Flu Vaccine Injury Claim? Discuss Your Legal Rights with Vaccine Attorney Leah V. Durant

Do you need to know more about filing a flu vaccine injury claim under the VICP? If so, we invite you to get in touch. To discuss your legal rights with vaccine attorney Leah V. Durant, please call 202-800-1711 or request a free consultation 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 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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