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Every year, millions of Americans receive a flu shot to protect themselves and their loved ones from getting sick. The seasonal flu vaccine contains the three to four influenza virus strains predicted to be most common that year. 

On its own, the influenza virus can cause mild to severe illness, including death—which is why the CDC recommends every healthy child and adult receives a flu shot each year.

When someone gets the flu vaccine, they may experience mild to moderate side effects that go away within a week. 

However, many people don’t know that seasonal flu shots can cause severe adverse reactions and injuries. These long-term conditions include shoulder injuries (SIRVA), Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), Vasovagal Syncope, and allergic reactions, and other illnesses. 

At Shannon Law Group, P.C., our vaccine injury attorneys help people hurt by flu vaccines get compensation from the federal government through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)

If a flu shot has seriously injured you or someone you love, you may be entitled to compensation. Our flu vaccine lawyers can help you navigate the program, from start to finish. Contact us today for a free consultation at (312) 578-9501 or fill out the form on this page. 

Keep reading to learn more about flu vaccine injuries and adverse reactions. 

Who Should Get the Seasonal Influenza Vaccine? (And Who Shouldn’t?) 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. People who are at high risk for severe complications from the flu virus should consider getting vaccinated. 

Different flu shots are approved for certain age groups. The standard-dose inactivated flu vaccine is approved for people as young as 6 months old. However, the recombinant influenza vaccine is approved for people over 18 years of age. The adjuvanted and high-dose flu vaccines are approved for people 65 and older. 

Who shouldn’t get a flu vaccine? Here are some rare exceptions: 

  • Children younger than 6 months old.
  • People who are severely allergic to any ingredient in the flu vaccine. 
  • People who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). 
  • People who’ve had a serious allergic reaction to the flu shot in the past. 

Flu Vaccine Side Effects You Need to Know

If you got your flu shot from a local pharmacy or your doctor’s office, you’ve probably experienced one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • Low-grade fever 
  • Pain, soreness, redness and/or swelling at the injection site
  • Sore arm
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue

These symptoms often go away within a few days to a week. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and they’re not subsiding, seek treatment as soon as possible. 

Pain after a Flu Shot? It Could Be an Influenza Vaccine Injury

In rare instances, people experience pain after an influenza vaccination that doesn’t go away on its own. 

This pain can be caused by one of the following conditions linked to the flu vaccine by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA) 

Shoulder injuries from flu shots are one of the most common vaccine injuries awarded compensation by the federal government. 

Shoulder injuries may happen if a flu shot is given too high on the arm. As a result, the vaccine is injected into the shoulder capsule instead of the deltoid muscle. 

An improperly placed flu shot can damage the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bursa sac in the shoulder joint. 

How do you know if you have a shoulder injury from a flu shot? People with SIRVA injuries often experience one or more of the following side effects. These symptoms sometimes last weeks or months after the flu vaccination: 

  • Shoulder pain within 48 hours after injection. 
  • Inflammation and swelling of the injured shoulder. 
  • Limited or reduced range of motion. 
  • Shooting or throbbing arm pain. 

SIRVA is linked to many different shoulder injuries. If you’re diagnosed with any of the following conditions after a flu shot, you may have SIRVA: 

  • Frozen Shoulder Syndrome (Adhesive Capsulitis) 
  • Shoulder Tendonitis 
  • Bursitis of the Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff Injury
  • Torn Rotator Cuff

If you’ve had shoulder pain that lasted months after a flu shot, please go to your doctor as soon as possible. SIRVA injuries often require treatment such as physical therapy and steroid injections in order to heal properly. 

Want to learn more about SIRVA? Click here. 

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) 

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (or GBS) is a neurological autoimmune disorder. During a GBS episode, patients may experience numbness and weakness starting in their arms and legs.  They may also lose the ability to talk, swallow, and often breathe. 

GBS is often triggered by a viral or bacterial infection. However, it is known that the seasonal flu shot can cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome as well. 

How do you know if you have GBS from a flu shot? First, you must develop symptoms within 3-42 days after the flu vaccine. Here are the signs you need to watch out for: 

  • Weakness, tingling, and/or numbness in your feet and hands that spreads up your body. 
  • Muscle pain. 
  • Problems walking or moving. 
  • Fatigue. 
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, and/or breathing. 
  • Slow reflexes. 

People with GBS from a flu vaccination need to seek treatment as soon as they can. If left untreated, it may cause permanent injury and death. 

GBS is treated with immunoglobulin therapy and plasma exchange. Doctors often prescribe physical therapy to GBS patients to regain their strength. Most people make a full recovery after one year, but some will experience weakness for the rest of their lives. 

To learn more about vaccine-related GBS, click here. 

Anaphylactic Shock (Severe Allergic Reaction) 

Some people experience a severe allergic reaction from the ingredients in the seasonal flu shot. These ingredients include gelatin, eggs, and other additives. 

After getting a flu shot, those with severe allergies will start showing symptoms of anaphylactic shock within four hours, including: 

  • Bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis) 
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension) 
  • Decreased heart rate (bradycardia) or increased heart rate (tachycardia) 
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) 
  • Swelling of the pharynx, larynx, or trachea (swelling of the throat and breathing passageways) 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Fainting 
  • Feeling confused and anxious
  • Loss of consciousness

If treated quickly, anaphylaxis is not life threatening. It only becomes dangerous if left untreated. Patients can pass away within hours due to airway obstruction from the swelling in their throat. They can also die from cardiovascular collapse. 

People with loved ones who’ve passed away from an allergic reaction to the flu shot may be eligible for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. 

Learn more about anaphylactic shock following vaccines here. 

Vasovagal Syncope (Sudden Fainting) 

Did you know that you can also faint suddenly following a influenza vaccination? Vasovagal syncope is a condition that occurs when there is reduced blood flow to a part of the brain following vaccine administration. 

As a result, patients lose consciousness and fall. Before fainting, they may experience the following symptoms: 

  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Sweating
  • Pale appearance

Fainting suddenly after a flu shot isn’t dangerous in and of itself. However, the patient may seriously injure themselves during the fall. The most common condition due to fainting is a traumatic brain injury. 

People who are injured after fainting from a influenza vaccine are covered under the VICP if certain criteria are met. 

Want to learn more about fainting after a flu shot? Click here. 

Can I Get Nerve or Muscle Damage from a Flu Shot? 

Yes, flu shots have been known to cause nerve and muscle damage in your shoulder if administered improperly. You can get a shoulder injury (SIRVA) from a flu shot.

If placed incorrectly, the flu shot’s needle can penetrate your shoulder capsule. As a result, your shoulder may swell and become inflamed. This inflammation may damage your nerves and muscles located in your shoulder. 

Talk to your doctor if you're experiencing shoulder pain following a flu shot.

Getting Compensation for a Flu Shot Injury Claim

So, how do you get compensation for your flu shot injury? You can pursue damages from the federal government through a no-fault program called the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

Before filing a claim, you need to meet the following criteria: 

  1. Your symptoms related to the flu shot injury developed in the last three years.
  2. Your symptoms lasted more than 6 months following the vaccination. 
  3. You received the flu shot in the United States. (There are a few exceptions to this rule for military members and American citizens living abroad.) 

If you meet these criteria, you can file a petition alleging that the flu vaccine caused your injury. You will need to submit all of your medical records and an affidavit. You can file the petition by yourself or you can hire a vaccine injury law firm like Shannon Law Group to help you. 

Once you file the petition, the U.S. Federal Court of Claims will begin the process of reviewing your claim. If the vaccine court concedes that the flu vaccine did in fact cause your injury, you will move onto the next step of determining compensation. 

The VICP offers compensation for the following damages: 

  • Any and all out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering (up to $250,000)

Should I Hire a Vaccine Injury Law Firm? 

While you can file a flu vaccine injury claim by yourself, we highly recommend hiring Shannon Law Group, P.C., to help you. Why? 

First, our services cost you nothing. We will cover all costs associated with your claim, and we will never send you a bill. 

Second, the government pays for our attorney’s fees. When the court awards you compensation, that is the amount you will receive. Our attorney’s fees are not taken from your award. 

Third, we can represent anyone living in the United States. We’ll handle the details of your case while you get better. Our vaccine injury attorneys are licensed in the U.S. Federal Court of Claims. We’ll keep in touch with you on a consistent basis from our Chicago, Illinois office. 

Speak with a Flu Vaccine Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has suffered from a flu vaccine injury in the last three (3) years, you may be eligible for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

To learn more, please call us at 312-578-9501. You can also contact us by filling out the form below. Our consultations are always free, and our representation comes at no cost to our clients when handling flu shot vaccine injury cases. Our attorneys can represent anyone living in the United States as well.


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.