Arm Paralysis After Routine Childhood Vaccinations: Application of Advanced Molecular Methods to the Causality Assessment of an Adverse Event After Immunization

J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2017 Sep 1;6(3):e161-e164. doi: 10.1093/jpids/piw084.


Post-licensure surveillance for adverse events following immunizations (AEFI) can identify rare complications of vaccinations and rigorous vaccine adverse event causality assessments can help to identify possible causal relationships. We report the development of arm paralysis after varicella vaccination in a 1-year-old child. Paralysis was initially presumed to be due to vOka because of the temporal relationship between vaccination and onset of arm weakness; however, molecular studies identified wild-type varicella zoster virus VZV (WT-VZV) in the CSF, leading the authors to conclude that WT-VZV was the probable cause. This case illustrates the complexity of assessing AEFI causality, and the importance of careful and complete evaluations when determining the most likely cause of an AEFI.

Keywords: adverse event after vaccination; child; paralysis; vaccine; varicella-zoster virus.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Arm*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Paralysis / etiology*
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing
  • Vaccination / adverse effects*