Zostavax Shingles

Zostavax Shingles
Though the vaccine is intended to prevent the disease, Zostavax can also cause shingles.  Shingles occur when the dormant varicella zoster virus becomes active, and may result in chronic nerve pain and other serious health consequences.

Did You Develop Shingles After the Zostavax Vaccine? You May be Entitled to Compensation.

The Zostavax prescribing information was recently modified to list shingles as a possible side effect. Individuals who developed this serious disease and related complications following vaccination may be entitled to file a Zostavax lawsuit to obtain compensation for their pain and suffering. To learn more, please contact the nationwide law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP at (888) 994-5118 to discuss your potential claim with a member of our legal team.

Zostavax and Shingles

Zostavax is currently the only shingles vaccine approved for use in the U.S.  The vaccine contains a weakened version of the varicella zoster virus, which causes both shingles and chickenpox. This virus becomes dormant when an individual recovers from chickenpox. Later in life, the virus may reactivate, resulting in shingles. According to Merck & Co., Zostavax only reduces the risk of shingles by about 51%.

The weakened varicella zoster virus contained in Zostavax is supposed to trigger the body’s immune response without causing shingles. However, in August 2014, the label for Zostavax was modified to list shingles as a possible side effect.

What are Shingles?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles in their lifetime. Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk. Though children can get shingles, the illness is much more common in older people, with half of all cases occurring in those over 60. While most victims will only experience one episode of shingles, the disease can recur.

Shingles usually presents as a painful, blister-like rash on one side of the body or face. The blisters will scab over in 7-10 days, and clear up within 2 to 4 weeks. Other symptoms associated with shingles include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach

While the rash is in the blister phase, a person with shingles can transmit the varicella zoster virus to another person who has never had chickenpox. That person may come down with chickenpox. However, they will not develop shingles.

Shingles Complications

  • Post-herpetic Neuralgia: The most common complication of shingles is a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN is characterized by chronic, severe and debilitating nerve pain in the area where the shingles rash occurred. While PHN usually clears up within a few weeks, some people will suffer from this painful condition for years. Per the CDC, PHN is rare in people under 40. But around 1/3 of those who develop shingles after the age of 60 will experience PHN.
  • Vision Loss: Individuals who develop shingles around the eye are at risk for painful infections that can result in vision loss or blindness.
  • Neurological problems: Depending on what nerves are affected, shingles can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), facial paralysis and other nerve problems.
  • Skin infections: Shingles blisters may be susceptible to bacterial infections if they are not properly treated.
  • Hearing problems: Hearing loss is a possibility if shingles blisters occur on the head and face around the ears.
  • Pneumonia
  • Death

Learn More about Filing a Shingles Lawsuit

The attorneys at Bernstein Liebhard LLP are now offering free legal reviews to victims of Zostavax-related shingles. To learn more about filing a claim, please call our office today at (888) 994-5118.

  1. FDA (2014) “Approval Letter – Zostavax” https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm412104.htm
  2. CDC (2016) “Shingles: Herpes Zoster” https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/index.html
  3. CDC (2016) “Signs & Symptoms” https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/symptoms.html
  4. CDC (2016) “Complications” https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/complications.html
Last Modified: May 2, 2017

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