The star of the 1970s TV series “The Incredible Hulk,” Lou Ferrigno, was hospitalized on Dec. 12, 2018 after receiving the pneumococcal vaccine for pneumonia. The vaccination left Ferrigno with fluid in his right bicep.1
Mr. Ferrigno, 67, tweeted:
Went in for a pneumonia shot and landed up here with fluid in my bicep. I’ll be ok but it’s important that you keep an eye on who’s giving the shot and make sure they not only swab the spot correctly but that you watch the needle come out of the package.1
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are two pneumococcal vaccines licensed and used in the United States today: pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). The CDC recommends the 13-strain pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for all children younger than two years old, all adults 65 years or older, and people two through 64 years old with certain medical conditions. The CDC recommends the 23-strain pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for all adults 65 years or older, people two through 64 years old with certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes.2
It is unclear which of the two pneumococcal vaccines was given to Ferrigno.
In an interview with CNN, William Schaffner, MD of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee said that the accumulation of fluid in Ferrigno’s arm may have been a “reaction to the vaccine” or it might have been because the “vaccination itself was not done properly.”1 If a vaccine, for example, is administered too high on the arm it can miss the muscle and instead hit a fluid-filled sac called the bursa, which protects the tendons of the rotator cuff in the shoulder. The debilitating vaccine injury is known as SIRVA ((shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration).3
Relatively few health care providers have ever heard of SIRVA and they tend to dismiss it, wrote Jennie Ann Freiman, MD in an article published in The Vaccine Reaction last year. It is an “underreported, painful side effect of vaccinations.”4
SIRVA is now recognized by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) and the number of claims for compensation have been steadily rising.4
(photo credit: Twitter)
1 Bonifield J. ‘Incredible Hulk’ actor Lou Ferrigno hospitalized after pneumonia vaccination. CNN Dec. 15, 2018.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pneumococcal Vaccination. Dec. 6, 2017.
3 Bursitis of the Shoulder. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
4 Freiman JA. SIRVA: A Risk With Every Vaccine. The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 25, 2017.