Guillain-Barré Syndrome from Flu Shot

Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or GBS, is a type of autoimmune disease. Specifically, it is a rare neurological disorder, affecting between 3,000 and 6,000 Americans every year.

When an individual develops GBS, the body begins to attack the peripheral nerves. This is because an inflammatory response begins to build once GBS develops.

The first signs of GBS are a tingling feeling in one’s extremities. Once the tingling and weakness develop, it may spread to the rest of the body, causing paralysis. Other symptoms may include:

  • An inability to walk
  • Trouble swallowing, chewing, speaking, or making facial movements
  • Vision problems, such as double vision
  • Incontinence
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble breathing

Individuals suffering from these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. Using lumbar punctures and electromyography/nerve conduction studies, a health care provider is able to make a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

These symptoms are typically most severe within the first 14 days of the disease.  Generally, hospitalization is required to treat GBS.

Most individuals who are diagnosed with GBS recover their ability to walk by around six months after diagnosis. However, fatigue, numbness, or weakness may linger for some time.

Although the majority of GBS patients recover, the disease does have a mortality rate of up to 7 percent.

Types of Guillain-Barré Syndrome

There are three primary types of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) and acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN) are usually reported outside of the United States, specifically in Mexico, Japan, and China.

Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS) is characterized by paralysis that first presents in the eyes. Unsteady walking is also a common symptom. Miller Fisher syndrome is usually seen in Asian countries.

Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP) is most commonly reported in Europe and North America. With AIDP, the muscle weakness starts at the bottom of one’s body and begins to travel upward.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Vaccines

Guillain-Barré Syndrome has been a hot topic in many news outlets lately, as some have reported the disease as an adverse event after receiving common vaccines.

For example, many individuals have suffered from GBS after receiving an influenza vaccination. In those individuals who developed GBS after a flu vaccine, the disease most often appears between 3 and 42 days after the injection. It is believed that in some individuals, the method by which the flu shot induces autoimmunity triggers GBS.  Additionally, cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome have been linked to Shingrix, the shingles vaccine.

Reporting Reactions to Vaccines

The Food and Drug Administration and The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) jointly manage the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System or VAERS. This website allows individuals to report reactions they have had to vaccines. Medical professionals may also report adverse events, and vaccine manufacturers are required to report any adverse events of which they are aware.

VAERS was not created to identify causal relationships between vaccines and adverse events, but rather to detect patterns that may hint at risks caused by certain vaccines.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or NVICP, is a system that individuals may use to file claims against vaccine manufacturers or medical providers. It is a no-fault system that does not take negligence or other wrongdoing into account.

Rather than force individuals to use the court systems scattered throughout the United States to file claims, they may use a single system that ensures expeditious resolution of claims, as well as uniform filing requirements.

A vaccine injury table is published by the NVICP. This injury table lists vaccines and injuries and conditions that may be associated with those vaccines. If an individual wants to pursue a claim for a different type of injury, that individual must present additional evidence that links the injury to the vaccine.

To recover any damages, the injured individual must show that the vaccine caused an injury or condition that lasted at least six months, required hospitalization or surgery, or caused a death.

What Causes Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

Medical professionals and scientific researchers are still unclear as to what exactly causes Guillain-Barré Syndrome. However, the majority of individuals who develop GBS note that they suffered some sort of infection in the previous six-week period. These may include a gastrointestinal infection or a respiratory illness.

Reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome have been cited in those who had recently contracted:

  • Influenza infection (flu)
  • Epstein-Barr
  • Zika virus
  • COVID-19
  • Campylobacter jejuni infection (noted as one of the most common risk factors)

Can Guillain-Barré Syndrome be cured?

Currently, there is no known cure for Guillain-Barré Syndrome. However, health care providers are able to treat its symptoms and shorten its overall duration.

How Do I File a Claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program if I Was Diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome Following a Vaccine?

The NVICP allows potential claimants to fill out forms online to begin the claims process. Claimants may file on behalf of themselves, their children, or disabled adults.

The claim must be filed within three years of the illness or injury. If a death has occurred, the claimant has two years from the date of death, and four years from the date of the vaccine reaction.

If You Were Injured by a Vaccine, Contact Menzer Law Today

You should not be held responsible for thousands of dollars in medical bills if you were injured by a vaccine. At Menzer Law our personal injury attorneys are experienced in handling vaccine injury claims and know how to present undeniable evidence to ensure our clients receive the compensation they deserve. To learn more about our services in our Seattle, Washington office, contact us online or call 206.903.1818.