March 8, 2017 — Health officials are warning doctors not to give Merck’s shingles vaccine Zostavax to patients who are sick or on certain medication after a person died in Australia.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) issued a Safety Advisory to warn that the virus in Zostavax can cause deadly infections. The agency said some patients may not be suitable for Zostavax and they asked doctors to consider the risks of Zostavax in sick patients:
“Health professionals should carefully consider a patient’s immunological status prior to vaccination and not administer Zostavax in immunodeficient or immunosuppressed patients. If unsure, defer vaccination and seek specialist advice.”
Zostavax has been sold in the U.S. since 2006, but it was not until December 2014 that Merck updated the list of vaccine side effects to include shingles, chickenpox, infections, or infestations with the virus.
Many people are surprised to learn that Zostavax can cause the same diseases it is supposed to prevent. The first lawsuit was filed last month by a woman in Nevada who says Merck downplayed the risk.
Zostavax contains about 14-times more live varicella-zoster viruses than Varivax, the chickenpox vaccine for children. The virus is “attenuated,” or weakened. It usually causes a mild infection, triggers an immune response, and helps the body develop immunity.
Deadly infections can occur if the immune system is not strong enough to fight off the virus. This is why Zostavax is contraindicated in patients with certain medical conditions affecting the immune system (leukemia, lymphoma, AIDS, etc.) or on medications that prevent activity of the immune system (steroids, anti-rejection drugs, etc.).
The good news is that Merck is developing a new shingles vaccine that contains an inactivated (dead) virus for people who should not get Zostavax. Merck is currently in Phase III clinical trials for “V212” in immunocompromised adults over 18 years old.
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 had severe side effects of the shingles vaccine, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Vaccine Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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