February 27, 2017 — A woman from Nevada has become the first-known victim of the Zostavax shingles vaccine to file a lawsuit accusing Merck & Co. of downplaying the risk of side effects.
Jorja Bentley of Reno, Nevada developed side effects within 24 hours of receiving the Zostavax vaccine in November 2014. Her initial symptoms — headache, dizziness, and blurred vision — resulted in permanent vision problems in her right eye and high blood pressure.
On February 22, she filed a lawsuit (PDF) in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas — In RE: Jorja Bentley vs. Merck & Co., et al. — Case No. 161004102
Zostavax is the only shingles vaccine that contains a live virus. The virus is “attenuated,” meaning it is weakened, but it still causes a mild infection. This triggers the body to respond and develop immunity. In some cases, it also triggers a serious chickenpox or shingles infection.
In August 2014, the FDA required Merck to update the list of Zostavax side effects to include “shingles,” and strengthen warnings about infections and infestations” with the vaccine strain of the virus.
Part of the reason Zostavax is so popular is because shingles is extremely debilitating — the rash clears up in a few weeks, but 20% of victims are left with chronic pain due to Post-Herpetic Neuralgia.
Shingles is also becoming more common. It occurs in 33% of people who were infected with chickenpox as children. One explanation for the rise in shingles is routine chickenpox vaccination programs in children, but studies investigating this theory are inconclusive.
In addition to chronic pain, shingles rashes on the face can also cause permanent blindness or deafness. Some studies also show a doubled risk of heart attack and stroke in the first 4 weeks after an outbreak.
Do I have a Zostavax Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Zostavax induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with chickenpox or shingles, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Vaccine Side Effect Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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