Is the flu shot really safe? That’s the question on at least one woman’s mind after a misdelivered flu shot forced her to require surgery on her shoulder. As reported by CBS Local, Jacalyn Broze developed a condition known as Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA). Symptoms of SIRVA include extreme pain, joint degeneration, and muscle loss, often to the point that patients require surgery to fix the problem and regain mobility. How many flu shot related injuries could be going on unreported?
• SIRVA typically occurs when medical professionals deliver injections too high or too deep into the shoulder. Instead of absorbing into the muscle tissue, the liquid enters the bursa, or fluid-filled cushioning sac around the joint itself.
• Localized inflammation creates irritation, pain, and swelling, compromising circulation and jeopardizing mobility. Over time, this can lead to joint degeneration, complete loss of mobility, and extreme pain.
• Broze’s symptoms started with one of the most common post-flu shot symptoms: pain in and around the shoulder joint. However, when she raised concerns with her medical care team, most of them blew her off, stating the reaction was normal.
• Over a short period of time, Broze experienced significant muscle loss. As the tissue weakened, her rotator cuff tore; this escalated her weakness, pain, and range of motion issues.
• Surgeons were forced to go in and physically repair Broze’s shoulder, stitching up her rotator cuff and realigning the joint. Rotator cuff surgeries require weeks or months of recovery time.
• Dr. Elliot Francke, who works for Midwest Infectious Disease Consultants, says that SIRVA is extremely rare, and that he has “never seen it.” Local healthcare provider Hennepin Health’s MVNA team reports that, out of 60,000 to 80,000 shots given every year, Broze’s case is the only incident of SIRVA.
• Even the CDC admits there can be serious complications associated with the flu shot, and SIRVA isn’t the only concern. According to this report, pregnant mothers who receive certain vaccines (for example, H1N1pdm09) may be at higher risk for spontaneous abortions or miscarriages. And the agency fully admits an association between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and the flu shot in this report, too. But that’s really just the beginning. Severe allergic reactions and other neurological complications, such as encephalopathy, have also been reported.
• Regardless of whether you agree with the flu shot itself, this case is a stark reminder of what can go wrong. If you experience significant side effects, you should push for a full investigation as quickly as you can.