Merck’s Zostavax is a shingles vaccine for people age 50 and older. According to The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), Merck’s product is the only live virus shingle vaccine currently available. The CDC recommends that adults 60 and older receive a dose of the vaccine.
The vaccine contains live varicella zoster virus – the chickenpox virus that also causes shingles. Once a person has had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in their body. Later in life, if the immune system becomes weakened, the virus can reactivate to cause shingles. Zostavax, according to Merck, contains a “weakened” or “attenuated” form of the virus, which stimulates the immune system in an effort to keep the virus dormant and prevent shingles.
What is the Problem With These Shingles Vaccinations?
Let’s start with the report that Zostavax’s effectiveness in preventing shingles is reported to be about 51 percent. In addition, it’s likely that the vaccination causes the very disease it is intended to prevent – shingles – as well as chickenpox. The vaccination warnings regarding these outcomes may be insufficient to adequately alert patients, including some of the most vulnerable in our communities, of the risks.
There is some indication that the vaccination is linked to death. NCIV analysis indicates that there were more than 1,100 serious adverse events reports made to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System from 1990 until September 2015 related to shingles-containing vaccinations. Of these reports, 90 were for deaths associated with the shingles vaccine.
Both chickenpox and shingles may result in serious damage to the nervous system including conditions like meningitis, encephalitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) and stroke. Some people who develop shingles have serious side effects, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, congestive heart failure, or varicella pneumonia.
The Signs and Symptoms of Shingles
Shingles is characterized by a painful skin rash. Usually, the disease first manifests by a pain that tingles or burns at a single site on one side of the body. A rash typically appears after a few days and may even blister. The rash can last for up to thirty days.
Shingles is mainly a disease of the elderly, but younger people can also get it. One out of every five people who get shingles end up with nerve pain that can last months, and even years.
Do I Have a Legal Claim?
If you received a shingles vaccination and subsequently developed shingles, chickenpox, or other serious medical complications, you may wish to consider taking legal action. Contact a vaccine lawyer at Lopez McHugh to discuss your options.