An Insight into Vaccines and Vaccine Injuries

A vaccine is a medical product that is designed to provide immunity against one or more diseases. With the recent outbreak of measles across the United States, there has been much attention focused on vaccines and their inherent safety. As a leading personal injury and medical malpractice firm in Washington State, our office would like to present a two-part analysis on vaccines and vaccine related injuries.

While Part I, below, presents some background information on these topics, Part II will focus on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Please note that Otorowski Morrow & Golden, PLLC is one of only a few Washington firms that is has lawyers admitted to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to handle vaccine injury cases. This means if you believe you have suffered an injury in relation to a vaccination, please contact us now.

Are Vaccines Safe?

Some people within the anti-vaccination movement may answer “no” to this question. However, if we just look back at history, vaccines have had a positive impact on public health. Prior to vaccinations, diseases like whooping cough and diphtheria killed thousands of people a year. These deaths substantially declined with proper vaccination. The same positive impact can be related to those vaccines used to prevent diseases like meningitis, measles and influenza.

However, all vaccines are not completely effective at preventing diseases and stopping their spread. There are situations in which persons may get vaccinated for a disease, but they still may get sick. So, while we can say that vaccines do work, not every vaccine is risk free.

Do Vaccines get Tested Prior to Public Use?

Vaccines undergo extreme testing prior to use by doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Please take note of the following. Prior to public use:

  • Vaccines are tested in medical studies that may last for several years;
  • Vaccine manufacturers must prove that their product’s side effects are minimal and are outweighed by public benefits; and,
  • The Food and Drug Administration conducts studies to ensure a vaccine is safe and effective.

Do Vaccines Cause Negative Side Effects and/or Injuries?

Vaccines can cause side effects. Some of the most common include:

  • Fever,
  • Soreness, and
  • Fatigue.

In certain cases, a vaccine can lead to more serious conditions and injuries. For example, there are times when a vaccine may cause a serious allergic reaction or even death. This is typically when a person receives a vaccine and is highly allergic to one or more components within the vaccine.

We must note that the frequency and severity of side effects and injuries is dependent upon the particular vaccine being discussed.

What is a SIRVA?

“SIRVA” is an acronym for a “shoulder injury related to vaccine administration.” SIRVA injuries occur with flu vaccines, tetanus vaccines, any other vaccines injected into a person’s shoulder. These injuries are believed to be caused by the injection itself. Further, these injuries involve pain that is more than the normal pain often associated with these shots.

The symptoms of a SIRVA injury are:

  • Intense shoulder pain that can last for days, weeks, months or even years;
  • Limited range of shoulder motion;
  • Inflammation in a person’s rotator cuff; and,
  • Stiffness and pain in a person’s shoulder joint.

Shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration are treated by a combination of:

  • Physical therapy;
  • Medication; and,
  • Cortisone injections.

Surgery may be necessary in some cases.

We are often asked by patients if they can take legal action for a SIRVA injury. The federal government acknowledges the fact that vaccines can cause SIRVA injuries. As one result, people can initiate action for compensation for a SIRVA via the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

While vaccines have prevented, and do help halt, the spread of certain infectious diseases, they are not free from side effects and injuries. Although these vaccines undergo rigorous testing, certain problems may still occur. If you believe you have suffered an injury from getting vaccinated, it is critical to contact an experienced vaccine injury attorney today. Our office is knowledgeable and experienced with vaccine injury cases. Contact us now and let us help.