Zostavax Vaccine Side Effects May Cause Shingles Virus, Rather Than Prevent It

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted October 1, 2018


Side effects of Merck’s herpes zoster vaccine, known as Zostavax, may cause some patients to suffer recurring and severe shingles outbreaks, rather than preventing the infection. As a result of the failure to warn about this potential risk, Zostavax vaccine lawsuits are being reviewed by the lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A.

Zostavax vaccines are approved for the prevention of shingles among individuals over the age of 50. While the injection is supposed to contain a weakened state of the live virus, which is designed to only initiate the development of antibodies by the immune system, studies have confirmed that the live virus used was not weakened enough, and can reactivate years later.

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Saiontz & Kirk, PA, Attorneys & Lawyers, Baltimore, MD

This may result in painful and debilitating cases of shingles. In addition to the normal side effects of shingles, which may result in painful rash and blisters, these outbreaks may result in a number of other symptoms, including:

  • Postherpetic Neuralgia
  • Scarring
  • Bacterial Superinfection
  • Allodynia
  • Cranial and Motor Palsies
  • Pneumonia
  • Encephalitis
  • Vision Loss
  • Hearing Loss
  • Death

Zostavax was developed with the use of a live varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is the same thing it uses in its chickenpox vaccine, Varivax. However, while Varivax contains a minimum of 1,350 plaque-forming units (PFUs), Zostavax contains a minimum of 19,400 PFUs.

According to findings of research published in the medical journal Nature Medicine six years before Zostavax was approved, researchers warned that if VZV is under-attenuated, meaning not weakened enough, it can reactivate later. In fact, shingles is actually what happens when dormant VZV reactivates naturally in the human body, meaning it can lie dormant for decades.

On top of the potential Zostavax risks due to an under-attenuated virus in Merck’s injections, clinical evaluations have found that Zostavax vaccine recipients are often injected with levels far, far higher than the minimum amounts of PFUs. In fact, more than 90% of those who get the Zostavax vaccine actually received about 32,300 PFUs.

Merck conducted two different studies, a Shingles Prevention Study in 2005, and a follow-up study in 2008, claiming it found no risk linked to the Zostavax vaccine. However, in 2015, an evaluation of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System found 1,111 serious adverse event reports linked to Zostavax, including 36 deaths. Three years later, in February of this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added new warnings to the Zostavax vaccine, indicating that it could be linked to rashes and shingles outbreaks.

Zostavax Lawyers Provide Free Case Evaluations

The product liability lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential lawsuits for individuals who have experienced shingles problems that may be the result of Zostavax vaccine side effects. These outbreaks can be persistent, painful, and may be accompanied by other debilitating health issues.

It appears that Merck either failed to adequately study the vaccine, or may have misrepresented the safety and effectiveness of it to the public and federal regulators.

As a result, financial compensation may be available through a Zostavax side effects lawsuit. All cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are never out-of-pocket expenses and no fees unless a recovery is obtained.


1 Comment • Add Your Comments

  • Vicki says:

    I had not heard about this and almost got the vaccine, but Walgreen’s was out. I guess I will take my chances without it, instead of enriching big Pharma on more side effects.

    Posted on October 8, 2018 at 3:24 pm

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