Vaccine in the Shoulder

After a vaccine injection, you may experience arm soreness or stiffness in the shoulder. For most people, this shoulder pain will only last a day or two and then go away. 

However, others will suffer severe shoulder pain from a vaccine that lasts months and doesn’t go away. Although these cases are rare, they have been recognized by medical communities as Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA). It can happen when a vaccine is given too high on the arm or is injected too deeply into the shoulder. 

As a result, the shoulder becomes seriously inflamed. SIRVA injuries may affect the shoulder capsule, deltoid muscle, bursa, or the entire shoulder joint. They also can manifest as other conditions, including rotator cuff injuries, bursitis, and frozen shoulder syndrome (adhesive capsulitis).

You may have a SIRVA injury if you experienced severe shoulder pain within 48 hours of getting vaccinated. You’ve likely lost range of motion in the affected arm, and your symptoms never resolved. Most people with a vaccine-related shoulder injury have trouble doing everyday tasks, such as getting dressed. 

While shoulder injuries from vaccinations may resolve on their own, they often require treatment to heal properly. After a SIRVA diagnosis, a doctor may prescribe physical therapy, pain medication, and even surgery. Some people never make a full recovery. 

Keep reading this article to learn more about Shoulder Injuries Related to Vaccine Administration, symptoms of SIRVA, treatment options, and how you can get compensated for this rare vaccine injury.

If you believe you have a SIRVA injury, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our vaccine injury attorneys. Our SIRVA lawyers can help you file a petition for compensation in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. You can also fill out the form at the bottom of the page to get started. 

What is SIRVA?

As mentioned above, SIRVA occurs when a vaccine is injected too high on the arm or too deep into the shoulder. This injury can happen due to improper placement of the needle or using the wrong needle length. In these cases, the vaccine is often administered into the shoulder capsule rather than the deltoid muscle.

Vaccines that are improperly administered may inflame and injure nearby tendons, ligaments, or the bursa (a fluid-filled sac in your shoulder). As a result, people with SIRVA experience intense shoulder pain, loss of mobility, and other long-lasting symptoms. People with SIRVA may be diagnosed with serious conditions like rotator cuff injuries or tendonitis.  

How common is SIRVA? 

Shoulder injuries from vaccine administrations are rare but often underreported. For this reason, the exact number of SIRVA cases is unknown at this time. 

That being said, SIRVA is the most common serious vaccine injury compensated by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Most people develop shoulder injuries from the seasonal flu shot or tetanus vaccine. At our firm alone, we represent over a hundred people with SIRVA from across the United States. 

What are the most common SIRVA symptoms?

Shoulder Injury from Vaccine Symptoms

SIRVA itself is not one single medical diagnosis. It covers many types of shoulder injuries and symptoms.

Immediately following the vaccination, you may experience some pain that’s not going away. But you may be asking yourself, “How do I know if I have SIRVA?”

Most people with a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration will experience at least three of the following symptoms. They often don’t improve with over-the-counter pain medication.

  • Severe shoulder pain. The most telltale symptom of SIRVA is severe shoulder pain that begins within 48 hours of injection. Pain can be intermittent or persistent, and often becomes worse when you use the affected arm. The pain may keep you up at night and not go away with over-the-counter medication. 
  • Decreased range of motion. If you have a shoulder injury from a vaccine, you will likely lose some mobility in your injured arm. Tasks that were once easy to do, such as dressing yourself or unloading the dishwasher, become almost impossible.
  • Inflammation or swelling near the injection site. SIRVA also causes inflammation in the shoulder joint itself. You may experience swelling, and your shoulder may hurt when you touch it.
  • Arm pain. Some people with SIRVA injuries experience radiating pain that travels from their shoulder to their arm. It can be throbbing and sometimes intense.

If you’re experiencing any of the SIRVA symptoms described above, we recommend contacting your doctor immediately to discuss your treatment options. If left untreated, this condition can progressively get worse.

6 Shoulder Injuries Related to SIRVA Diagnosis


Here are the most common shoulder injuries you can get from SIRVA:

  • Frozen Shoulder Syndrome (Adhesive Capsulitis). Frozen shoulder causes pain and stiffness in your shoulder. Over time, your shoulder becomes very difficult to move. People often get frozen shoulder syndrome when they’re unable to move their arms for a long time.
  • Shoulder Bursitis. The bursa is the fluid-filled sac that lubricates the shoulder joint. If the vaccine is injected into the bursa, you may have painful inflammation in the shoulder known as bursitis.
  • Shoulder Tendonitis. Vaccines are typically administered in the deltoid muscle. If given too high, the injection can injure the tendons in your shoulder. This improper vaccine administration can cause Shoulder Tendonitis or inflammation of the muscles and bones in your shoulder.
  • Rotator Cuff Tear. This SIRVA injury happens when there is a tear in the tissues connecting the muscle to the bone around the shoulder joint. Oftentimes, people with rotator cuff tears from vaccines also have Shoulder Bursitis or Tendonitis.
  • Nerve Damage. If a vaccine is administered too far to the side or too low on the arm, the injection can damage the axillary and radial nerves. This SIRVA injury results in paralysis and neuropathy for some patients. Watch out for burning or shooting pain during the injection; those symptoms are telltale signs of nerve damage.
  • Impingement Syndrome (Swimmer’s Shoulder). Impingement syndrome happens when an inflamed tendon in your shoulder rubs against your shoulder blade, resulting in pain. Many swimmers get this condition, but it can also happen after a vaccine is injected too high in your shoulder, damaging your tendons.

If you have any of these shoulder injuries, your life is no longer what it used to be. These injuries often require ongoing medical care. You may lose your job or have to file for long-term disability.

We want you to know that you are not alone. There is compensation available to you under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. To learn more, call us today at (312) 578-9501 or fill out the form at the bottom of this page to schedule your free SIRVA consultation.

Can You Get a Rotator Cuff Injury from a Flu Shot?

The short answer is yes. The seasonal flu shot can cause SIRVA injuries like rotator cuff injuries. You can even get tendonitis or bursitis from a flu shot. As we discussed above, a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration is often caused by vaccines being injected too high on the arm. 

Any vaccine injected into the shoulder can cause shoulder pain and injury, but not all vaccinations are covered under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. These covered vaccines are recommended by the CDC for children and pregnant women. 

Fortunately, the seasonal influenza vaccine is covered by the VICP. 

There are more cases of people getting a shoulder injury from the flu shot because folks get them annually. If you’re experiencing severe shoulder pain from a flu shot, our expert vaccine lawyers can help. Reach out to us to schedule your free consultation today.

How Do You Treat SIRVA?

Treatment for SIRVA


If you believe you have a shoulder injury from a vaccine, you should consult with your doctor to discuss the best treatment options for you. 

Overall, SIRVA patients may be instructed by their doctor to consider the following treatment: 

  • Rest. Taking a break and resting from your usual activities can help your shoulder injury heal. Stop doing any activities that cause immediate pain if possible. If your SIRVA symptoms don’t resolve, talk to your doctor about other treatment options available to you.
  • Pain medication. Your physician may recommend you take medications such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. Some people experience relief from taking over-the-counter pain medications, while others need a prescription for pain relievers to get them through the day.
  • Steroid injections. Your doctor may prescribe steroid injections to reduce the inflammation in your shoulder joint. These injections also preserve joint function and structure.
  • Physical Therapy. You may need physical therapy to regain any loss of function and motion in the shoulder.
  • Surgery. If no other treatment is effective, you may need surgery to repair the affected ligaments and tendons in the shoulder. This is especially true for 

What Are The Best Exercises For SIRVA?

When you have a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration, it’s best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any treatment. 

If your pain has persisted for 2-3 weeks, it’s time to book an appointment with your primary care physician. That being said, there are exercises you can do at home to help relieve shoulder pain temporarily. 

Here are some of the most effective at-home exercises for SIRVA injuries: 

  • Pendulum. To do this exercise, lean forward and support yourself against a chair or table with your non-injured arm. Dangle your injured arm straight down and draw small circles in the air. Gradually increase the circumference and reverse the direction sometimes. 
  • Arm across the chest. Hold your injured arm out in front of your body near the waist. Put your other hand behind your injured arm’s elbow. Pull your injured arm across your chest using your hand. Hold in this position for 30-50 seconds and then release.
  • Neck release. Sit up straight. Slowly tilt your chin toward the chest until you can feel the stretch in the back of your neck. Next, lean your head to the right or left to stretch either shoulder. Hold the stretch for a minute. 

Does SIRVA Go Away?

If you think you have this condition, you may be wondering, “Is SIRVA permanent? Will I have to deal with this for the rest of my life?”

For some, their shoulder injury will heal after months of treatment. They don’t have any lasting side effects or shoulder pain. 

However, some patients experience chronic pain for more than six months, even after seeking treatment. They have to take pain medications or receive steroid injections to manage their shoulder injury. Others may have to continue physical therapy so their injury doesn’t regress. 

Can I File A SIRVA Lawsuit?

Yes, you may be able to file a lawsuit to get damages for your SIRVA injury—but there’s a special court system for vaccine injuries in the United States you may not know about. It’s called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

If you are suffering from SIRVA, you may be eligible for compensation from the VICP. This program is managed by the U.S. Federal Court of Claims in Washington, D.C.

The VICP offers an alternative path to a traditional lawsuit. The VICP allows you to pursue compensation for a vaccine injury without having to sue your doctor or the pharmaceutical companies.

Vaccine Injuries Book

Download your free copy of Vaccine Injuries: Understanding the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program by attorney Jonathan Svitak.

In this publication, Jonathan explains the history of this unique federal program and answers some of your most frequently asked questions about vaccine injury cases.

How To Get Compensation For A SIRVA Injury

Under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, you can petition for SIRVA vaccine injury compensation. The Program itself offers compensation to people injured by vaccinations listed on the Vaccine Injury Table. All of these vaccines are on the childhood vaccine schedule, including: 

  • Seasonal flu vaccine 
  • HPV vaccine 
  • DTaP/DTP vaccinations
  • Hepatitis A & B vaccines
  • MMR vaccine 
  • Polio vaccination 
  • Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine 
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccines 
  • Pneumococcal conjugate (Prevnar) vaccines 
  • Meningococcal vaccines 
  • Any new vaccine recommended by the CDC for routine administration to children after publication by the Secretary of a notice of coverage. 

In 2017, the VICP revised the Table to include Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration as a covered injury for every vaccine listed on the table.

What does this mean? Essentially, you can be afforded presumption by the court that a vaccine did, in fact, cause your shoulder injury. 

However, you must file your SIRVA claim within three (3) years of the onset of your SIRVA symptoms. Oftentimes, SIRVA symptoms begin within 48 hours of the vaccination.

Compensation is awarded based on the specific facts of your SIRVA injury claim. The Court will examine your medical records and history. If the Court agrees that the vaccine caused your SIRVA injury, it will then award you damages for your injury.

We highly recommend hiring a vaccine injury lawyer like the ones at Shannon Law Group to file your SIRVA claim. It comes at no cost to you because the U.S. Federal Court of Claims pays your lawyer for their attorney’s fees.

Our SIRVA Injury Lawyers Are Ready To Help You

If you or someone you love has suffered a vaccine shoulder injury, we can help you get the justice you deserve. At Shannon Law Group, P.C., we help people like you every day recover financially and emotionally following a SIRVA injury. We do this by filing a petition for them in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. 

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our SIRVA attorneys. We’re available 24/7 to take your call. You can also fill out the contact form on this page, and we’ll get back to you within 1 business day. 

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