Zostavax is a single-dose vaccine used to prevent shingles in adults ages 50 years or older. Zostavax contains a weakened chickenpox virus and works by helping the immune system protect people from getting the shingles virus. The vaccine is manufactured and marketed by American-based Merck & Co., Inc., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. But recent studies have shown that the side effects may in fact dramatically outweigh the benefits.
Not only is the shingles vaccine moderately effective at best – barely more than half of patients who participated in the Shingles Prevention Study were protected from the disease – it may even cause the very illness it was designed to prevent. Shingles can cause serious damage to various vital systems, and may result in serious health complications including:
- Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
- Congestive heart failure
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Varicella pneumonia
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Another study conducted by researchers found that the shingles vaccine may lead to corneal inflammation, also known as keratitis. In the short term, keratitis can cause excess tears or discharge from your eye, blurred or decreased vision, increased sensitivity to light, and eye pain among other symptoms. However, if keratitis is left untreated, it could lead to even more serious complications, including permanent damage to your vision. It is highly recommended that you speak to your doctor before receiving the shingles vaccine if you have a history of keratitis.
Along with the risk of contracting shingles after being vaccinated, The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) analyses showed that over 1,100 serious adverse events related to shingles vaccinations were reported through the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System between 1990 and September of 2015. 90 of those reported events were deaths associated with shingles vaccinations.
Lawsuits filed in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania allege that Zostavax caused serious side effects, including blindness, paralysis, brain damage and death. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued two black box warning changes to Zostavax labels over concerns of the development of chickenpox and shingles, the virus targeted by the vaccine. In 2016, the FDA expanded the vaccine’s warnings to include the potential side effect of vision damage caused by necrotizing retinitis, or inflammation of the eye, that may lead to blindness in some cases.
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Filing a Zostavax lawsuit cannot repair the damage a patient suffers, but it can help compensate for financial losses from medical expenses and lost wages a patient may experience. If you or someone you know has used Zostavax and suffered from the above side effects, you may be able to file a lawsuit.