What is SIRVA?

Vaccines are safe.

Of course, they aren’t 100% safe.

One possible problem though, SIRVA, isn’t necessarily caused by the vaccine itself, but how it is given.

Or more precisely, where it is given.

What is SIRVA?

SIRVA is an acronym for shoulder injury related to vaccine administration.

It can occur when a vaccine is injected into the underlying bursa of the shoulder joint, instead of the deltoid muscle, causing shoulder pain and limited range of motion.

“These symptoms are thought to occur as a result of unintended injection of vaccine antigen or trauma from the needle into and around the underlying bursa of the shoulder resulting in an inflammatory reaction. SIRVA is caused by an injury to the musculoskeletal structures of the shoulder (e.g. tendons, ligaments, bursae, etc.). SIRVA is not a neurological injury and abnormalities on neurological examination or nerve conduction studies (NCS) and/or electromyographic (EMG) studies would not support SIRVA as a diagnosis (even if the condition causing the neurological abnormality is not known).”

Vaccine Injury Table

Why would someone want to give you a vaccine in the shoulder joint?

They shouldn’t!

In addition to giving shots in the correct location, to prevent SIRVA, it is also important to use the proper needle length.
In addition to giving shots in the correct location, to prevent SIRVA, it is also important to use the proper needle length.

In older kids and adults, intramuscular injections are typically given “in the central and thickest portion of the deltoid muscle – above the level of the armpit and approximately 2–3 fingerbreadths (~2″) below the acromion process.”

Giving the shot properly can prevent SIRVA.
Giving the shot properly can prevent SIRVA, keeping in mind that you might use a 5/8 inch needle in younger children.

If the shot is given in the shoulder joint, then it was given too high, typically in the upper 1/3 of the deltoid muscle.

Improved education will hopefully decrease SIRVA cases, but tell your doctor and report your case to VAERS if you think you developed SIRVA within 48 hours of getting a vaccine in your upper arm.

As a table injury, folks with SIRVA can also get compensated under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

More on SIRVA

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