HSE Issues Safety Guidance to Vaccinators on Injection Techniques to avoid Rare Shoulder Injuries
In a Covid-19 Vaccine Bulletin issued on the 4th June 2021, the HSE updated its safety guidance, which includes advice that all vaccinators must be competent in intra-muscular (“IM”) injection techniques into the deltoid muscle.
Welcoming the intervention by the HSE with regard to the risk of rare shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration (SIRVA), Liam Moloney Solicitor, who has experience in representing patients who receive rare, but sometimes serious vaccine injuries following vaccine administration, said today “this recent HSE bulletin has warned that incorrect IM injection technique can result in the vaccine being administered into the subcutaneous tissue, not the muscle, which can render the vaccine ineffective. Legally, no claim for compensation can be taken for minor shoulder injuries caused which are a recognised and acceptable risk of injections. Also a patient who receives a significant Shoulder Injury would first of all have to have expert evidence that there was negligence and a breach in the standard of care in the administration of the injection before any such claim could be pursued”.
The informative guidance also stated that administration of the vaccine in the incorrect site of the deltoid muscle can result in injury. For example, if the vaccine is injected too high, it may inadvertently be injected into the synovial tissues of the shoulder joint, resulting in an immune-mediated inflammatory reaction. This is called Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA), which can lead to prolonged pain and dysfunction”.
Mr Moloney continued “the HSE’s latest safety update acknowledges that a shoulder injury can be caused from poor vaccination technique. Thankfully the risk of a SIRVA injury is very rare as vaccinators receive thorough training in injection techniques”.
The HSE Bulletin also encouraged vaccination leads in clinics to remind vaccinators of the requirement for competency in the correct IM injection technique and in the training and supporting materials that are available.
* In contentious business, a Solicitor may not charge a fee based on a percentage of an award of damages or a settlement achieved.
* This article is written by this author as a commentary on a Covid-19 vaccine bulletin (No. 22) issued by the Health Service Executive on 4th June 2021 which highlights changes in clinical guidance for the Covid-19 vaccination programme. This article in no way is written for the purposes of promoting the taking of any legal claims for minor shoulder injuries following vaccine administration, which are a recognised side effect and an acceptable risk of undergoing vaccination which does not give rise to a cause of action for damages. The article is written to highlight that in very rare cases significant shoulder injuries can occur, but any such legal actions seeking compensation would be subject to establishing negligence and causation under Irish law.