In 1986, Congress created the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) to combat the 1980s scare over the DPT vaccine. However, due to oversight the shingles vaccine, Zostavax is not included in the protections of the act. This means that those injured by the drug can receive large rewards.
Zostavax vaccinates against shingles. Shingles are the same virus that causes chickenpox. Whereas chickenpox affects the younger population, shingles occur in those over 60. Approved by the FDA in 2006, it was the only shingles vaccine until 2017 when Shingrix came on the market. Zostavax works by a doctor injecting a patient with a weak, living form of the varicella-zoster virus. The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox and shingles. This vaccine has 17x more live varicella zoster virus in it than the chickenpox vaccine.
Merck manufactures the live virus in fetal lung cells, which can end up in the vaccine causing serious side effects like infectious diseases and auto-immune disorders.
Zostavax Side Effects
Over 36 million people aged 50 and older received this vaccine. As of March 2018, the FDA had received 102,962 reports of Zostavax side effects. These include 128 deaths, according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The side effects can happen within six months of injection. They are usually either an infectious disease or an autoimmune response from the vaccine.
Zostavax Vaccine Court Omission
Part of the NCVIA is the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (aka Vaccine Court). This office litigates vaccine injury claims. Injured parties cannot file vaccine injury claims in state or federal civil courts. However, unlike other courts in vaccine court, the plaintiff needs to show the harm. The court will grant awards if:
- A medical connection of vaccination and the injury
- Logical cause and effect of the vaccination
- A proximate temporal relationship between vaccination and injury
However, this court can only hear cases listed in the Vaccine Injury Table. Zostavax is not in this table.
Merck Did Not Pay the Vaccine Tax
One of the stipulations of a vaccine is for the manufacturer to pay a 75 cent tax per dose to the vaccine court. Then, the court includes the vaccine in the Vaccine Injury Table. However, Merck did not pay this tax since the company says there was no need since it won’t cause a public health epidemic. Yet, it did. Now, the effects have become long lasting.
Just this past year, the CDC warned about women getting pregnant after the vaccine. If it was safe and would not pose any danger, then it should be safe for all individuals.
Merck Knew The Dangers
When the FDA first approved Zostavax in 2006, it was just for individuals 60 years and older. The agency told Merck to conduct post-market studies since the original ones stopped looking at safety data after only 42 days. The individuals in the study were 95% Caucasian purposely since other races are more susceptible to shingles. Plus, the efficacy rates were very low at 60% at best. Then, 17% effective at worst. Additionally, the older the individual getting the vaccine, then the lower the efficacy.
Plus, the FDA and CDC had concerns about the strength of the live virus in the vaccine. It was so strong that in 2018, the CDC added a shingles vaccine info sheet to be placed with the label. However, since many individuals received Zostavax at a pharmacy, they never saw the warnings.
Merck developed a non-live vaccine (like Shingrix) in the 1990s, which is safer. The company never used it since it was cheaper to manufacturer the live virus.
If the conduct of a drug company in manufacturing and selling drug is found to be highly reckless, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the company and deter similar conduct in the future. Therefore, if you developed an autoimmune disorder after taking Zostavax, please speak to us to learn more about your rights.