What is Zostavax?
Zostavax is one of only two FDA approved shingles vaccines available in the United States. Manufactured by Merck, Zostavax is designed to lessen the risk of developing the herpes zoster virus, commonly known as shingles, in people over the age of 50. Zostavax only requires one shot while the new Shingrix vaccine requires two.
Zostavax is made with a small amount of weakened but live varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox virus). Children and people who have a weakened immune system are typically not able to receive this type of vaccine, nor can people who have not previously had chickenpox.
In an attempt to prevent shingles, some patients may have unintentionally contracted the virus from their shingles vaccination.
Zostavax, may cause serious injuries including shingles, blindness, and even death. Injured patients are now filing lawsuits against Zostavax’s manufacturer Merck for failing to warn about the potential side effects.
Who is affected and why
Zostavax is a shingles vaccine for patients 50 years and older, an age when the virus is more common. It’s caused by dormant chickenpox viruses which can lay in the body’s nervous system for years, eventually creating shingles. The virus is typically characterized by a painful band of blisters on one side of the torso.
Zostavax uses a weakened form of the herpes zoster virus in order to activate the immune system. After fighting the weakened version of the virus, the body builds immunity. At best, the vaccine only works in 50 percent of patients, and even then it will only last for about six years.
For patients who are immunocompromised, their bodies may not be able to fight off the small dose of the virus. This can cause a host of injuries, including chickenpox and shingles itself.
Lawsuits claim that even though Merck knew Zostavax could cause shingles, it didn’t list this as a side effect until December 2014, years after the vaccine was approved by the FDA in 2006.
Those who have suffered an injury from the Zostavax (shingles) vaccine remain ineligible for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). However, new information has come to light and victims may be eligible to pursue a direct claim against the pharmaceutical manufacturer.
The FDA reports that Zostavax side effects can include the following:
- Acute myelitis
- Allergic reactions
- Bell’s Palsy
- Brain injuries
- Corneal Band Keratopathy
- Eye disorders, including necrotizing retinitis
- Hearing loss
- Herpes Zoster Keratitis
- Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus
- Herpes Zoster Oticus
- Herpetic Uveitis
- Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Necrotizing Retinitis
- Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN)
- Ramsay Hunt
- Retinal Uveitis
- Spinal Cord Inflammation
- Vision impairment
According to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), more than 36,000 adverse events have been reported, including reactions, hospitalizations, injuries, and deaths. Patients who received the vaccination and experienced serious side effects and complications are filing lawsuits alleging that Merck failed to adequately warn physicians and their patients about the serious risks associated with the drug. In fact, numerous health issues have been reported in Zostavax recipients including serious eye disorders like necrotizing retinitis and keratitis.
If you or a loved one were injured because of the Zostavax vaccine before March 2018, we can help you hold Merck accountable. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. It costs nothing unless we secure a jury award or settlement for you.
Please note: Zostavax differs from the other shingles vaccine, Shingrix, because it only requires one shot, while Shingrix requires two. Douglas and London is not currently investigating cases against the manufacturers of Shingrix.