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Why is Merck being sued over the Zostavax vaccine? - VB Attorneys

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


In 2006, Merck’s Zostavax vaccine was approved by the FDA as a shingles vaccine. It was marketed to reduce the risk of getting shingles (aka the herpes zoster virus) in people over the age of 50. However, for more than half the people who received Zostavax, shingles was the best outcome they could expect.

Merck’s decision to sell a defective vaccine has seriously injured thousands of people 

Shingles typically affects people over 60 years old. It is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus. The hallmark of shingles is a rash or blisters that cause an incredibly painful burning sensation. It affects your nerves, which means it can cause a large number of other injuries. Some of the injuries caused by Zostavax include:

  • Shingles
  • Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (this includes Allodynia)
  • Transverse Myelitis
  • Aseptic Meningitis
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome
  • Neurological problems that appear at least seven days after receiving the Zostavax vaccine, including:
    • Encephalitis
    • Meningitis
    • Facial paralysis (this includes Bell’s Palsy and Ramsay Hunt)
    • Loss of hearing
    • Balance problems
    • Cranial nerve palsies
  • Acute cardiovascular events (dysfunction within blood vessels), including:
    • Heart attack
    • Ischemic stroke
  • Cardiac issues, including:
    • Exacerbation of chronic heart failure
    • Cardiomyopathy
  • Vision problems, including:
    • Vision loss
    • Eye infections
    • Retinal damage
  • Pneumonia including other lung issues
  • Skin infections including bacterial superinfection
  • Lupus
  • Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM)

Why is Merck’s Zostavax vaccine defective and dangerous?

Merck used a live, “attenuated” version of the varicella virus in the Zostavax vaccine – the herpes zoster virus. The varicella virus causes chickenpox and shingles. An outbreak of chickenpox causes the varicella virus to go into a latent state. The virus then stays in your nerve cells for the rest of your life. It can reactivate itself as the herpes zoster virus as you get older by traveling from your nerve cells to your skin, manifesting as shingles.

Once the herpes zoster virus has been reactivated and the group of nerve cells it has attached itself to has been fully infected, the group of nerve cells is destroyed. The virus then spreads to the next group of nerve cells, then the next, and so on. This is how the virus replicates itself, traveling throughout your body. The virus can reactivate itself in any of the nerve cells where it remains latent and produce new nerve inflammation and damage whenever it reactivates. If it reactivates itself in the ears or eyes, it can cause severe hearing damage and blindness.

The extreme damage, pain, and suffering it causes is why there was a need for a shingles vaccine for people over the age of 50. When you reach 60 years old, your risk for getting shingles increases dramatically. However, Merck’s decision to use the live virus in its vaccine has caused millions of people intense pain and suffering – even death.

Merck knew the vaccine wasn’t safe and chose to sell it anyway

Investigations have shown that Merck failed to do its due diligence and prove that this vaccine was safe and effective before selling it to people. In fact, we now know that Merck knew of the risks and sold this vaccine anyway. The company’s disregard for your safety and well-being has led us to hold them accountable.

That is why we have been appointed to the leadership committee for the Zostavax multi-district litigation (MDL). Our goal is to help you hold Merck accountable for putting your health in danger and get the best result possible for your case.

These cases are not part of a class action lawsuit. There is no class action lawsuit against Merck in regard to the Zostavax vaccine. Your injuries, pain, suffering, and losses are unique to you.

If you qualify to file a Zostavax lawsuit against Merck, your case will be decided on an individual basis. To find out if you qualify, call us now at 877-724-7800 for a free and confidential consultation.