Zostavax, a vaccine manufactured by Merck, is utilized to prevent the herpes zoster virus, also known as shingles. Shingles occurs when the chickenpox virus is reactivated. Unfortunately, that means if you have ever had chickenpox, you are at risk of getting shingles. Shingles can be extremely painful and is usually identified by the telltale rash and blisters on one side of the body. Although shingles generally develops later in life, it can affect all age groups.
Zostavax is touted as a vaccine for individuals aged 50 and over to safely reduce your chances of getting shingles. Zostavax is made from a live but weakened form of the virus. The thought is that by exposing your immune system to a small amount of the actual live virus, your immune system will build up a resistance to the shingles virus without contracting the full-blown virus. Individuals with a compromised or weakened immune system should not receive this type of vaccine.
Zostavax Side Effects
More than 36 million Americans have received the Zostavax vaccine since it was approved by the FDA in 2006. However, many individuals began complaining of serious side effects including:
- Cardiovascular events
- Permanent hearing loss
- Loss of eyesight
- Necrotizing retinitis
- Brain inflammation
- Facial paralysis
- Myelitis – Spinal cord inflammation
In August 2014, the FDA required Merck to update the risk of Zostavax to include Shingles, the virus it was marketed to prevent. In February 2016, the FDA again required the Zostavax warning to be updated to include necrotizing retinitis, an inflammatory eye condition caused by the herpes virus which can lead to vision loss. The CDC now recommends an alternative vaccine, Shingrix, for the prevention of Shingles as it has been shown to have a reduced risk for serious side effects compared to Zostavax.
The Zostavax vaccine is not covered under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Therefore, in order to pursue compensation, you must file a lawsuit. Zostavax lawsuits are being filed in a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Recently, initial Bellwether cases were selected for trial in the Zostavax MDL. These cases are expected to go to trial between 2020-2021. The cases were grouped based on the alleged injury. One group includes individuals who contracted shingles from the vaccine and the other group consists of non-shingles related injuries.
If you received a Zostavax vaccine and experienced one of the above side effects, our attorneys are available to discuss your potential claim. Lawsuits are often the only way for people to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable. The injury attorneys at Anapol Weiss will fight on your behalf for fair compensation. Call our office today to set up your free consultation.