Zostavax, a shingles vaccine manufactured by Merck, is the only live virus vaccine of its kind currently on the market. According to the CDC, all adults age 60 and older should receive the vaccine to reduce the risk of developing this painful disease. Unfortunately, Zostavax has recently been linked to serious medical complications, including death.
What is Shingles?
Characterized by an extremely painful skin rash, shingles usually affects only one side of a person’s body. Anyone who has had chicken pox in the past is at risk of developing shingles, but those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible. This includes people who have cancer or HIV, are under significant stress, or are 50 and older. Most people first notice a tingly, burning, or itchy feeling before the rash appears. The rash, which can hang on for 30 days or more, often blisters before disappearing. The nerve pain associated with the disease can last for months.
Shingles can cause serious damage to the nervous system and may lead to dangerous conditions such as encephalitis, meningitis, and stroke. Some people have even died after developing secondary conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and congestive heart failure. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to a dangerous or defective drug.
What’s Wrong with the Zostavax Vaccine?
Zostavax contains a live dose of varicella zoster, the virus that is responsible for causing both chicken pox and shingles. If you’ve ever had chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus remains dormant in your body. If your immune system becomes compromised due to a health problem, or simply getting older, the virus may “come back to life” and cause a painful case of shingles. According to Merck, the weakened form of varicella zoster in its vaccination is intended to stimulate the immune system, thus keeping the virus in its dormant state and preventing the formation of shingles.
Unfortunately, in addition to being only about 51 percent effective at preventing shingles, the vaccine may actually cause the disease it is supposed to be preventing. Victims of Zostavax side effects and complications have filed lawsuits alleging that, among other things, the vaccination’s warnings fail to adequately warn of these risks. A MA drug injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a drug manufacturer.
What Injuries are Linked to Zostavax?
In addition to alleging that Merck failed to warn the public of side effects linked to Zostavax, lawsuits also claim that patients treated with Zostavax suffered shingles, autoimmune diseases, blindness, hearing loss, nerve problems, spinal inflammation, and heart complications. Even more disturbing, some reports have linked Zostavax to death. Of the more than 1,100 serious adverse events reports related to the live shingles vaccine, 90 were for deaths. Continue reading