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CDC Warns Of Errors In Giving Shingrix Shingles Vaccines

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Federal health experts are warning about the risk of problems with Shingrix, GlaxoSmithKline’s shingles vaccine, indicating that errors have been reported in recent months due to confusion between the new drug and its older competitor, Zostavax. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report this week in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), highlighting the number of adverse event reports submitted in recent months involving Shingrix administration errors.

Shingrix (recombinant zoster vaccine; RZV) is a new GlaxoSmithKline shingles vaccine that was just placed on the market in October 2017. It is only approved for adults age 50 and older, and is one two shingle vaccines that are currently approved in the United States. The other is Merck’s Zostavax (zoster vaccine live; ZVL).

The report indicates that 155 reports were submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System during the first four months Shingrix was available, including at least 13 problems with Shingrix administration. According to the findings, nine of those errors were because the drug was administered in a single subcutaneous dose, instead of as a 2-dose intramuscular injection, which is how the vaccine should be given. The single subcutaneous dose is how Zostavax is administered, suggesting confusion among doctors.

All but one of those patients suffered injection site reactions, including pain, erythema, and pruritus.

In two cases, patients were given the vaccine information statement for Zostavax instead of for Shingrix, and not instructed to return for their second dose, which also suggests whoever administered the vaccine thought they were giving the patients Zostavax, or thought that Shingrix worked the same way.

In the other four cases, the patients given the vaccine were younger than the minimum age of 50, for which the vaccine is approved.

The CDC researchers suggest that early monitoring indicates that the vaccine providers are confused over administration procedures, and storage requirements of Shingrix. Nine of the 13 vaccine administration errors occurred in a pharmacy, while two happened in a health care provider’s office, and two occurred at unknown sites.

“To prevent RZV administration errors, vaccine providers should be aware of prescribing information, storage requirements, preparation guidelines, and (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) recommendations for herpes zoster vaccines,” the CDC report recommends.

Shingles Vaccine Problems

The report comes amid concerns over the potential side effects of Zostavax, another shingles vaccine that was introduced in May 2006. Merck now faces a growing number of Zostavax lawsuits, which claim that the drug not only fails to protect against shingles as advertised, but actually causes a more persistent strain of the infection.

According to allegations raised in dozens of product liability lawsuits filed over the shingles vaccine, Merck used an under attenuated live strain of the varicella zoster virus (VZV) in Zostavax, which was not weakened enough to prevent reactivation of the virus. Instead of the body developing the proper immune response, the live virus combined with the old virus in some users, resulting in a more virulent strain of shingles.

Zostavax sales have fallen sharply in recent years, while Shingrix sales have far surpassed original projections, with full year sales now projected to exceed $600 million for the new drug.

Shingles is caused by the same virus, varicella zoster, which causes chickenpox. Later in life, the virus can be reactivated and cause shingles, which is a painful rash that usually appears as a stripe of blisters on the body. Pain can continue even after the rash is gone, which is known as postherpetic neuralgia.

Shingles itself can cause scarring, bacterial infections, encephalitis, hearing loss, vision problems and other complications.

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24 comments

  1. Betty Reply

    I had my second SHINGRIX shot and immediately became ill. I was hospitalized with upper lobe pneumonia and severe bronchitis. I’m on my third week and am still ill.

  2. Carolyn Reply

    I received the Shingrix both of the recommended dose. I have shingles worse now than i have had them in 30 yrs. Miserable. And my vision is blurry. I’m not sure if I would get it again. And now i can’t take my meds for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

  3. Jim Reply

    I took a chance and got this shot and I am really sorry I did. Since then my glucose has been impossible to control, white cell and lymph count shot up, extreme and long periods of fatigue. The bicep pain lasted several days and soreness lasted close to a month. This shot may end up being the death of me. GlaxoSmithKline is an evil corporation with history of criminal convictions of lying about the effectiveness of their drugs and their horrible side effects including death. The hyped-up trials GSK paid-for finding 95% effectiveness are probably just pure BS. And lots of people complaining on Internet about serious side effects of Shingrix. Just stick with Zostavax.

  4. George Reply

    I am a 71 year old white male blind in my right eye due to a childhood injury. I received the 1st Shingrix Vial injection on 04/12/2018 at CVS. I was diagnosed by my eye Dr Snead with Macular Degeneration in my left eye on 07/24/2018. I was referred to my retina Dr Ghuma on 07/31/2018 for treatment that is still going on. I received my 2nd Shringrix Vial injection on 08/03/2018 at Publix.

  5. Dara Reply

    I received my first Shingrix shot 6/8/18, subcutaneous in my right arm. Swelling, pain, tenderness and rash on entire arm that lasted 3 weeks. Was told the reaction was because the shot was given incorrectly and I shouldn’t have a problem with dose 2. Received dose 2 3/13/19, intramuscular in my left arm. Extreme pain in arm, headache that lasted 48 hours, fever, and now rash that covers half of my upper arm.

  6. Pam Reply

    Received my 1st dose Shingrix shot February 1st I have been suffering with some palsy effects on left side of face. Painful headaches and feeling exhausted. Went back to Drs and put on predizone. Nothing changed. Seeing a nureologist . I could cry that I agreed to this shot. I should of done my research.. I pray I get my once good health back being only 57 …

  7. Terry Reply

    I received the Shingrix vaccine in August of 2018. I broke out with a rash of hives 2-3 weeks later. I went to a Dermatoligist and she said it looked like shingles and took a bi-opsy witch came back negative for shingles and said I dont know maybe just a fluke. My pereferal vision has developed worse to almost nothing, hearing is worse. I have had lung and breathing problems since the vaccine. After a doctor visit he advised me that the booster could be deadly and I had all ready told him I was not going to get the booster. I have had to take disability from my aviation carrier. I am 59years old.

  8. Les Reply

    April 24,2019 I received round 1 of Shingrix.

    Within 24 hours I developed severe flu like symptoms and my Sciatica flared to a 10 level of pain.

    I had Sciatica prior to the injection but it had been reduced down to a 2 or 3 level of pain.

    I have read on another site the comments of 3 others that developed Sciatica from Shingrixx.

  9. Deanna Reply

    I received my first shingrix shot in July 3018. Immediately after I got shingles in my pelvic area with horrible nerve pain. I was hospitalized to control the pain…

  10. Julie Reply

    My husband Troy got the shingrix vaccine for shipping gels and 3 wks later got shingles which doctors said also triggered Gout in his left arm and hand

  11. Tammy Reply

    I received my first dose on Nov. 5th 2018. 6 months to that day I was diagnosed with Bells Palsy. How did I ever get this if the vaccine worked?!? Thank God the pharmacy was out of the second dose whenever I went back. I will not be getting the 2nd dose, and truly believe that the reason I got Bells Palsy is directly related to the vaccine. I am already out about $1500.00 and have an appt. with an EMT to consult for surgery. I feel compensation should be mandatory!!!

  12. Geneva Reply

    I got the Shingrix shot on July 5, 2018 at Walgreens. Had a horrible reaction to the sho t including swelling and redness, severe pain, flu-like symptoms and a headache for days. Could not use my left arm. Had continuous severe pain and still have pain in the injection site to this day. Cannot use that arm. I have pictures of my arm showing the reaction I had. I have experienced severe fatigue ever since. I am 72 years old. Could not use that arm after injection and still cannot. Has caused blurred vision. I had severe headache for days after the injection. I called Walgreens and reported the horrible reaction. They said they would report it and for me not to get the second shot. No way I was going to take that second shot. It has ruined my life..

  13. Caroline Reply

    Can you update me on your sciatica problems. I also had a quick onset after my second vaccine. Wondering how long this will last and how it will go away abruptly. This has been awful

  14. Carol Reply

    Caroline and Les
    … I would like to chat with you about your experience. I also had a quick onset of sciatica after my second shot. Flu like symptoms day 2 after shot.. horrible sciatica day 3 and onward. I am finally nerve pain free, but have muscle cramps and tightness and pain in the same leg I had the sciatica. I received the second shot on June 7 … so it’s been 7 weeks. If you are willing I would love to contact you by phone or email.

  15. Alli Reply

    I received the Shingrix vaccine at Walmart and it has caused severe pain in the top of my left arm. The first several weeks I could not lift my arm. It’s been three weeks and it is still very painful and I can barely lift my left arm to brush my hair. It throbs during the night. I will not got the second shot. I hope my arm gets better.

  16. Mae Reply

    I received the Shingrix vaccine at North Seminole Family Practice & Sports Medicine on September 6, 2019. Within 24 hours the entire left side of my body felt like it was on fire, and my right middle toe was completely numb. I had to get blood drawn today at Quest labs, and i asked the phlebotomist to look at it and she told me to IMMEDIATELY go to the Florida Blue clinic to have them examine my left arm. When the Nurse Practitioner examined me, she immediately notice the Shingrix vaccine was administered entirely too low on my left arm. She went on to tell me it should’ve been given in the upper deltoid area. The nurse practitioner informed me to follow up with my PCP, to see if I should get the second dose. If I need to to have it administered by my PCP ONLY AND NO ONE ELSE AT THAT OFFICE. I don’t want to receive the second dosage EVER. I have been extremely fatigued and my whole left side of my body feels like lava is coursing through my veins. This pain is REALLY SERIOUS…OH MY GOD

  17. Michael Reply

    I had a severe ear infection that lasted about 4 weeks. It was both bacterial and fungal. When the infection cleared up I had an audio test done to determine what type of hearing aids we were going to use. We did the examination and I made an appointment for 2 weeks later to get fitted. Everything was fine and then one week before I was to be fitted I took the shingles shot. Within 5 days my hearing deteriorated so much that they could no longer fit me for hearing aids until the severity of my hearing loss could be determined. I have taken steroids prescribed by my ENT to help regain some of my hearing but they are saying I will not regain what I had lost.

  18. Michelle Reply

    I.got the shringix vaccine on 9-19-19 broke out with severe shingles on 9-21-19. I was feeling like I was hit by a truck on 9-20-19
    The virus is still running its course. I am in Hell.

  19. Herschel Reply

    I received the shingles vaccine on August 12, 2019 and loss my hearing out of my left ear. I went to a ear specialist he said I have nerve damage to the inter ear cause deaf in that ear. Both ears were perfectly normal before the vaccine, I’m 63yrs old. I will not get the 2nd dose not worth loosing my other ear. I am blessed that I can still work and drive without issues. Very concerned why this happened to me. Concentration is very hard because the ringing noises that continues around clock. Learning to blockout the noise through other wind devices while sleeping.

  20. Kim Reply

    I recieved my second shot of Shingrix in September 2019. A day after I developed severe neurological problems that lasted a week. I’m so glad no permanent damage was done. And so glad that was my second shot!!

  21. Greg Reply

    I got my shingrix vaccine October 10th 2018 same time I was going through dental work assumed it was related to that in the 10 months since then I’ve been to a neurologist and neurosurgeon acupuncture acupressure General Practitioners MRI MRI with contrast all told normal friend of mine told me she was getting ready to go get a vaccine but was afraid of the side effects I asked her what they were and she read them off and it was exactly what I have numbness left side of face lips tip of my nose to my ear all on the left side taste buds can’t taste anything I only got the one vaccine thank God I didn’t get the other… I was told that these side effects or indicative of the first type of shingles vaccine and not the new 1 BS

  22. Stephany Reply

    I got the first Shingrix vaccine in Aug. 2019. It is just a few days before Halloween and my shoulder still aches and is still very swollen. Seeing my doctor about this in a few days.

  23. Michele Reply

    I received my first shot around 5 weeks ago. My arm was killing me for over a week. I too had flu like symptoms and now for the first time have developed sciatica nerve pain which was so bad I have to see a spine doctor to receive shots. The first round only worked for two days. Went back yesterday for round two if spinal shots and only a little better. Have to go for round three in two weeks and I can tell you this that the booster shingles shot is never going to happen.

  24. John Reply

    I received the first dose of Shingrix on July 2nd, 2019. After severe earache in August 2019, I was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome due to contracting shingles near my face and ear nerve. I had palsy on right side of my face, severe mouth drupe and could not shut right eye. Hearing in my right ear is reduced by half with severe ringing. Persistent vertigo prevents me from driving, now two months after the fact. Unreal. 54 years old.

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