Deltoid Bursitis as an Adverse Event Following Injectable Influenza Vaccine in the Vaccine Safety Datalink — United States, 2016–2017

  • In 2012, the Institute of Medicine reported that the injection of a vaccine can cause deltoid bursitis, a type of shoulder injury that can include severe inflammation and pain. To date, there has never been an epidemiologic study to determine how often deltoid bursitis occurs after vaccination. We used the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a collaboration between CDC and eight participating healthcare organizations that examines electronic health and vaccine records, to see if we could answer that question with regard to flu vaccination.
  • About 2.9 million people received a flu shot in the 2016-2017 flu season. Of those, we identified 16 cases of bursitis that started within two days of vaccination. This meant that there were an additional 2.5 cases of bursitis for every million people who got a flu vaccine that year.
  • CDC education programs are underway to improve vaccine provider awareness about the risks of bursitis and how it can be prevented through proper injection technique. CDC will continue to monitor the rates of bursitis and other shoulder injuries following vaccination, and focus training and education programs accordingly.
Quote from the Disease Detective

“To our knowledge, this study is the first attempt to determine the risk of deltoid bursitis following flu vaccination. We confirmed that bursitis is an uncommon adverse event that can occur after getting a flu shot, with an additional 2.5 cases of bursitis occurring for every million people who get vaccinated. Proper administration technique is important for preventing shoulder injuries.”

– Elisabeth Hesse, MD, MTM&H, EIS Class of 2017

EIS Officers Share Research[JPG - 661 KB]

EIS Officer Elisabeth Hesse, MD, MTM&H, shares her research with CDC Health Communications Specialist Brittany Booker

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CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Conference Information

Elizabeth Hesse

Elisabeth Hesse, MD, MTM&H,
EIS Class of 2017
CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

Education: MD: Ohio State University, Columbus, 2009
MTM&H: The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 2011
BA: Hiram College, 2005
Resident [Preventive medicine
(General/PH)]: Walter Reed Army Institute of
Research, Silver Spring, Maryland, 2010-2012
Intern(Transitional year): Walter Reed Army
Medical Center, Washington, DC, 2009-2010

Work Experience: Division Chief, Disease Epidemiology, Army Public Health Center,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 2015-Present;
82nd Civil Affairs Battalion Surgeon, U.S.
Army, Ft. Stewart, Georgia, 2012-2015
Board Certified: Preventive medicine