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Shot In The Arm Can Lead To Shoulder Injury

(CBS) -- You get a shot at a doctor's office or a pharmacy and you end up with a serious injury.

CBS 2's  Roseanne Tellez reports on a mistake that's becoming more common when patients are given shots.

Raul DeJesus demonstrates how he can't raise his left arm. He has painful nerve damage in his left arm and takes powerful pain medications.

Debby Russo needed surgery to fix the damage to her shoulder.

"I knew something was wrong because I couldn't really move my arm," she says.

Both suffered serious shoulder injuries, not from an injury, but from their flu shot.

"It can really be quite a significant problem," says infectious disease specialist Dr. Robert

He says this kind of injury isn't common but can happen and is usually because the shot is given too high in the arm.

"It goes right into the joint space instead of the  muscle belly," Duncan says.

Russo remembers how it felt: "I thought he actually stuck it into my bone."

"Shoulder injuries really just started to become recognized," says attorney Paul Brazil.

He notes the federal government's vaccine injury compensation program recently added shoulder problems to their list of injuries eligible for cash damage awards. The condition is called SIRVA, or Shoulder Injury Due to Vaccine Administration.

"Most cases all fall somewhere in the $20,000 to $150,000 range," Brazil says.

While any injectable vaccine can cause this damage, Brazil says most of his cases have involved the flu shot.

"In my personal experience it seems that a lot of vaccine petitioners get the vaccine at a pharmacy," he says.

Russo got her vaccine at a pharmacy and was awarded $108,000.

She has a warning: "Do not get a shot of any kind at a pharmacy."

The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association published an article last year about the danger and included the ideal spot for an injection. Brazil says this kind of education is key.

"If it was publicized more, then people administering vaccines might be more careful," he says.

DeJesus wishes the health care worker at the clinic where he got his shot had been aware of this problem. His case is still pending.

"This has affected every single aspect of my life," he says.

Doctors say a little soreness after a flu shot is perfectly normal, but these victims developed  serious orthopedic injuries.

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