LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Raul DeJesus has nerve damage in his arm.
The pain is so debilitating that he needs several powerful medications.
“Oxycondones, hydrocondones, the list goes on,” said Raul.
Debbie Russo needed surgery to fix the damage to her shoulder.
“I knew something was wrong because I couldn’t move my arm,” she said. “It was a lot of pain.”
Both Raul and Debbie suffered serious shoulder damage, not from an injury or something they did, but from flu shots.
Infectious disease specialist Robert Duncan says while these injuries aren’t common, they can happen, usually because the shot is given too high in the arm.
“It can really be quite a significant problem,” said Duncan.
Vaccine injury attorney Paul Brazil says shoulder injury related to vaccine administration, or SIRVA, only recently started to become recognized.
“Most cases fall somewhere in the $20,000 to $150,000 range,” according to Brazil.
Under a government deal with manufacturers, they pay a tax into a federal fund, which can then be used to pay vaccine-injury claims.
The program recently added shoulder injuries to the list of injuries eligible for cash damage awards.
While any vaccine can cause damage, Brazil says, most of his cases involved the flu shot, and adds he has clients all over the country, including here in Southern California.
“In my personal experience, it seems that a lot of vaccine petitioners get the vaccine at a pharmacy,” he said.
Debbie got her shot from a pharmacy, and was later awarded $108,000.
“I tell everyone, do not get a shot of any kind at a pharmacy,” she said.
The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association published an article last year outlining this danger and giving pharmacists tips on proper procedure, including the ideal spot for an injection.
Brazil says this kind of education is key.
“I think it’s lack of awareness,” said Brazil. “I think if people knew about SIRVA, if it was publicized more, then people administering vaccines might be more careful.”
Raul said he wishes that was the case at the clinic where he got his shot. His case is still pending.
“This has affected every single aspect of my life, not to be able to do the things that I was able to do because of a simple flu shot,” Raul said.
While doctors say a little soreness after a flu shot is perfectly normal, these victims developed serious orthopedic injuries.
If you suspect you’ve suffered a vaccine injury, click here to visit the Health Resources and Services Administration’s website to file a claim.