Zostavax

What Is Zostavax?

Zostavax was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and is currently the only approved shingles vaccine in the U.S. Manufactured by Merk, this vaccine has been marketed to people 50 or older as a means of preventing shingles. The vaccine contains a weakened chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus). 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.

How Effective is Zostavax?

Merk claims that the vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by 50%. However, the Health Sciences Institute (HSI) authors published a January 2016 article which reported, in part, "UCLA researchers found that only one in 175 people who get the vaccine will be able to dodge a shingles flare-up." Merck obtained its statistic in a woefully sinister and misleading way. In the placebo group, 3.3 percent of the study participants developed shingles, compared to 1.6 percent in the vaccine group. This does equate to 50%. However, it also means the real, absolute risk reduction is a measly 1.7 percent.

What is the Zostavax Litigation About?

People across the country are beginning to file lawsuits against Merk due to the side effects caused by Zostavax. Some recipients of the vaccine have reported eye problems such as acute retinal necrosis and blindness. Others have reported getting shingles, itself, or suffering from seizures, paralysis in their limbs, brain damage, and even fatal liver failure or death. The lawsuits claim that Merk knew about the side effects but failed to warn. Currently, the majority of claims are pending in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. However, one lawsuit was recently filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Where Should I Go for Help?

If you or someone you love has been hurt by Zostavax, call our Houston office at 713-352-7883 or 877-643-3099 toll free, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a lawyer.