Vaccine Side Effects: Flu, Rubella, TDaP, MMR

Vaccines have been around for hundreds of years – and have drastically changed our lives. Through vaccination programs, we have largely been able to eradicate diseases that once ravaged entire communities, like smallpox and polio. As a general rule, vaccines are incredibly safe and effective. However, some people do experience health problems (or adverse events) related to vaccines beyond the typical mild, temporary effects like a sore arm. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) demonstrates that vaccines can cause health issues for some adults and children.

If you have suffered a serious injury from a vaccine, you may be eligible for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).  At the Menzer Law, we are here to help guide you through the process. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with a Seattle vaccine injury lawyer.

Flu Vaccine Side Effects

In the United States, the CDC recommends that everyone aged 6 months or older receive an annual vaccination against influenza, or the flu. Individuals should get the flu shot by the end of October each year.

The flu vaccine comes in two forms: inactivated and live. The live, attenuated (weakened) influenza vaccine (LAIV) is a nasal spray that can be given to people between the ages of 2 and 49, with the exception of pregnant women. It typically comes with mild side effects, such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, fever, or cough.  Rarely, the LAIV can cause a severe allergic reaction or other serious injuries.

The inactivated flu vaccine is given as a shot in the arm. It can be given to anyone older than 6 months, including pregnant women. The side effects for the flu shot are typically mild, and may include fever, soreness and swelling at the injection site, muscle aches and headache.

However, in some cases, a person may develop more serious complications from the flu shot, such as:

  • Long-term shoulder injuries
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome
  • Sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure resulting in fainting
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Other serious injuries
  • Death

If you have experienced any significant side effects from the flu shot, visit your health care provider as soon as possible.

TDaP Vaccine Side Effects

The TDaP vaccine is a combined shot that protects against three infections: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). It is only given to children aged 7 years and older. Typically, adolescents get a single dose of TDaP between the ages of 11 and 12, and then a booster shot every 10 years. Pregnant women should also get a dose of TDaP during the third trimester of every pregnancy to protect the newborn from pertussis.

The most common side effects of the TDaP vaccine are pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given, mild fever, headache, fatigue, nausea and/or diarrhea. Rarely, this vaccine may cause a severe allergic reaction, long-term shoulder injuries, fainting, confusion, other serious injuries, or death.

MMRV Vaccine Side Effects

Like TDaP, the MMRV vaccine is a combined shot that protects against infection from four different viruses: measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). The first dose is given to children between the ages of 12 and 15 months. The second dose is then given between ages 4 and 6. Some children may receive separate shots for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and varicella/chickenpox.

Most children experience mild reactions after an MMRV shot, such as swelling of the glands in the cheek or neck, a sore arm at the injection shot, or a mild rash. Occasionally, more serious reactions may occur, including:

  • Seizures and confusion
  • Long-term shoulder injuries
  • Sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure resulting in fainting
  • Temporary low platelet count, which can cause unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Life-threatening infections for people with serious immune system problems
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Death

If you are concerned about the possibility of these significant side effects, talk to your health care provider about your child receiving the varicella vaccine separately from the MMR vaccine, or whether the vaccine is appropriate for your child if they have a weakened immune system.

Meningococcal Vaccine Side Effects

Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis, which is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord as well as an infection of the blood. There are two shots available for meningitis: meningococcal ACWY and meningococcal B. These shots are designed to protect against different serogroups of meningococcal disease.

The meningococcal ACWY shot is given in two vaccine doses, at 11 or 12 years of age and then at 16. The CDC recommends the meningococcal B vaccine to anyone over the age of 10 who is at an increased risk for contracting this disease, including people with sickle cell disease or who take certain types of medications. Most people who receive either meningococcal shot have mild side effects, like redness or soreness, muscle pain, headache, or tiredness. In rare cases, a person may have a severe allergic reaction to this vaccine, suffer from a long-term shoulder injury, or experience a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure resulting in fainting.

What Should I Do If I Had a Bad Reaction to a Vaccine?

Vaccines are designed to trigger immune responses so that your body learns how to fight a particular virus or infection. Most frequently, people have relatively minor side effects after a vaccine, like a mild fever, soreness, or muscle aches. In some cases, a person may have a reaction to a vaccine that falls outside of the norm.

Before getting any vaccine, talk to your health care provider about the risks, particularly as it relates to your current health, the medications that you take, and any underlying health conditions that you may have. For example, if you have ever had a serious reaction to a particular vaccine or have previously been diagnosed with a condition such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you may not be a good candidate for some vaccine doses.

If you experience hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness after getting a vaccine, this may be a sign of an allergic reaction. This is a medical emergency. Call 9-1-1 immediately or have a loved one get you to the hospital.

If you have other significant side effects that concern you, call your health care provider. They can diagnose and treat any adverse reactions. They will also report adverse events to VAERS.

Finally, if you or your child have been diagnosed with a vaccine injury, you may be eligible for compensation through the NVICP. This fund provides compensation for injuries related to vaccines that contain:

  1. Tetanus toxoid (DTaP, DTP, DT, Td, or TT)
  2. Whole cell pertussis bacteria, extracted or partial cell pertussis bacteria, or specific pertussis antigen(s) (DTP, DTaP, P, DTP-Hib)
  3. Measles, mumps, and rubella virus or any of its components (MMR, MM, MMRV)
  4. Rubella virus (MMR, MMRV)
  5. Measles virus (MMR, MM, MMRV)
  6. Polio live virus (OPV)
  7. Polio inactivated virus (IPV)
  8. Hepatitis B
  9. Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  10. Varicella
  11. Rotavirus
  12. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines A
  13. Hepatitis A
  14. Seasonal influenza (Not non-seasonal flu vaccines)
  15. Meningococcal
  16. Human papillomavirus (HPV)

If you or your child suffered an injury from a vaccine that is covered by the NVCIP Vaccine Injury Table and the injury required treatment for at least 6 months, resulted in inpatient hospitalization or surgical intervention, or resulted in death, you may be eligible for compensation. Even if your specific reaction or complication is not covered by the Vaccine Injury Table, an experienced Seattle vaccine injury lawyer can work with you to determine whether you may be able to file a petition for compensation.

How Long Do I Have to File a Vaccine Injury Claim?

If you have suffered an injury from a vaccine – or if your child has a vaccine injury – then you must file a petition for compensation with NVICP within a certain time period. The statute of limitations for these claims is 3 years from the date of the first symptom of a vaccine injury, or 2 years from the date of death if a person dies as a result of an adverse event, and no longer than 4 years after the first symptom that led to death.

Because of these time limitations, it is important to consult with a Seattle vaccine injury attorney as soon as possible after you develop symptoms of a vaccine injury. These claims can be complicated, so it is best to get started on the process quickly. Call the Menzer Law today to schedule a free consultation about your case.

Do I Need an Attorney to File a Vaccine Injury Claim?

Although the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was designed to be non-adversarial in nature, these cases are often difficult to prove without the help of a lawyer. The government is represented by an experienced vaccine attorney – so having your own lawyer helps to level the playing field.

Vaccine injury claims are filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims and then are adjudicated by a Special Master. The procedures for these claims are unique and can be confusing. That is why it is critical to work with a Seattle vaccine injury attorney who knows how to handle these types of cases.

How Much Does It Cost to File a Vaccine Injury Claim?

To file a petition with the NVICP, you will need to pay a filing fee of $400. Most vaccine injury lawyers do not charge any up-front legal fees. Instead, if the court finds that your petition is reasonable and was filed in good faith, it will award reasonable attorneys’ fees and other costs. For most people, this means that it will not cost you anything to pursue a vaccine injury claim.

At the Menzer Law, we advocate for people who have suffered serious injuries from vaccines. Give our law office a call to schedule a free consultation with a Seattle vaccine injury attorney.

How We Can Help

While vaccines can and do save lives, they can also cause harm. If you or your child has a vaccine-related injury, then you may be eligible for compensation through the NVCIP. Our law firm can help.

For more than 25 years, the Menzer Law has helped people who have suffered vaccine injuries in Washington state. We offer free consultations and charge no upfront fees for vaccine injury cases. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a Seattle vaccine injury lawyer, give us a call at 206.903.1818 or fill out our online contact form.