Shingles Vaccine Zostavax Caused Peripheral Neuropathy, Lawsuit Alleges

The side effects of the singles vaccine Zostavax allegedly caused a Kentucky woman to develop painful and permanent nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, according to a recently filed product liability lawsuit.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Rita Bishop on March 21, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, indicating that Merck & Co. sold a dangerous vaccine for prevention of shingles, and failed to adequately warn about the potential Zostavax risks.

Bishop indicates that she was inoculated with the shingles vaccine Zostavax in October 2012, which has been commonly given to older adults over the past decade as a preventative measure. However, shortly after the injection, she developed peripheral neuropathy and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuritis.

Zostavax was introduced in May 2006, as a single dose vaccine for prevention of shingles among individuals over the age of 50. It is a more potent version of the Merck chickenpox vaccine, Varivax, which contains the live varicella zoster virus. However, an alarming number of problems have been reported, where users experienced longer and more painful shingles outbreaks and other infections, which were allegedly caused by use of an “under-attenuated” version of the virus that was not sufficiently weakened to avoid reactivating the dormant virus in some users.

The lawsuit argues that Bishop and other individuals who received the vaccine eere not adequately warned about the potential health risks. The complaint indicates that Merck knew about the risks from data obtained during clinical trials before it was approved by the FDA.

“The patient information sheet, as well as the label and prescribing information for Zostavax at all times relevant hereto, did not adequately, if at all, address the risk of viral infection,” Bishop’s lawsuit states. “All that was addressed is the concern that a rash and itching might develop at the injection site. This is despite the fact that shingles was a noted occurrence during clinical trials of the vaccine.”

Given common questions of fact and law raised in Zostavax shingles vaccine lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, the litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings as part of a federal MDL, or multi-district litigation.

As lawyers continue to investigate and file additional claims on behalf of people who have experienced problems from Zostavax, the size of the litigation is expected to continue to grow over the coming months and years.

While all cases filed throughout the federal court system are currently centralized before Judge Bartle, if Merck fails to reach Zostavax settlements or another resolution for the claims following bellwether trials, each individual lawsuit may eventually be remanded back to different U.S. District courts nationwide for separate trial dates in the future.

29 Comments

  • LouciaMay 16, 2022 at 2:44 am

    Don’t risk it. I’ve had the shingles but did not get the vaccine. Since the vaccine causes these problems especially nerve problems I would sue for damages.

  • WandaMay 15, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    Within the first week of shingles vaccine I’m experiencing neuropathy pan in my right arm (injection site)

  • JOHNMay 14, 2022 at 10:55 am

    Received shingrix shot on 10/21/2020. Shortly after had numbness starting in the middle finger on right side. It continued to get worse. I was tested for carpel tunnel and then for a pinched nerve. Results were negative. The fact that it came on so suddenly ,my thought was that it may have been the shingles shot. I still have the neuropathy in both hands and legs but mainly on right arm which is[Show More]Received shingrix shot on 10/21/2020. Shortly after had numbness starting in the middle finger on right side. It continued to get worse. I was tested for carpel tunnel and then for a pinched nerve. Results were negative. The fact that it came on so suddenly ,my thought was that it may have been the shingles shot. I still have the neuropathy in both hands and legs but mainly on right arm which is we're I got the shot. I am immunosupressed do to a heart transplant that I received in January 1991. I'm convinced it was the shingles shot which brought on the neuropathy .

  • ANDREAMay 12, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    I too have received my first and second Shingrix vaccination shots and noticed that my right arm pain (shot location) has lasted months after the shot was administered, as well as numbness and tingling in my right hand. I take Cymbalta twice a day and Gabapentin at night before bed, but the pain, numbness and tingling do not go away. My PCP recommended that since I am 50+ that it was time that I w[Show More]I too have received my first and second Shingrix vaccination shots and noticed that my right arm pain (shot location) has lasted months after the shot was administered, as well as numbness and tingling in my right hand. I take Cymbalta twice a day and Gabapentin at night before bed, but the pain, numbness and tingling do not go away. My PCP recommended that since I am 50+ that it was time that I was given the Shingrix vaccine to be up to date on my immunizations. I regret agreeing to be given the Shingrix vaccination. Had I known that it caused peripheral neuropathy, then I may not have agreed to be given the vaccine.

  • RichardApril 17, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    Glad I found this. I too was a victim of getting a shingle 1st shot in January 2022 and soon after I’ve developed a strong case of peripheral neuropathy. Haven’t felt great ever since. I’m not going to risk getting the 2nd shot either

  • SamApril 3, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    I received the first of the two dose shingles shots a few weeks ago. The last two weeks I've developed peripheral neuropathy of my hands and feet. I went to the doctor and I thought maybe it was a pinched nerve or something but it is progressed.... There's no other cause found for it. I refuse to have the second vaccine. I also can't find anything else that would be causing it. All the articles an[Show More]I received the first of the two dose shingles shots a few weeks ago. The last two weeks I've developed peripheral neuropathy of my hands and feet. I went to the doctor and I thought maybe it was a pinched nerve or something but it is progressed.... There's no other cause found for it. I refuse to have the second vaccine. I also can't find anything else that would be causing it. All the articles and stuff on the vaccine says nothing about this problem side effect.

  • SophieMarch 18, 2022 at 8:53 pm

    In 2021, I at 57 I was in what I deemed my best physical shape in my adult life. In January I had my first dose of the Shingrix vaccine. Ten days later, I developed sudden widespread nerve pain including electric shocks, tingling, numbness and burning sensation. My skin was and is still sensitive when washing my face or hair. I was referred to a neurologist who ordered an MRI, cat scan and extens[Show More]In 2021, I at 57 I was in what I deemed my best physical shape in my adult life. In January I had my first dose of the Shingrix vaccine. Ten days later, I developed sudden widespread nerve pain including electric shocks, tingling, numbness and burning sensation. My skin was and is still sensitive when washing my face or hair. I was referred to a neurologist who ordered an MRI, cat scan and extensive blood work. Everything came back normal. She eventually sent me for a skin biopsy and I was diagnosed with small fibre disease or neuropathy. I spent a lot of time last year trying to do my exercices in the morning as I felt it was important to push through but I also spent a lot of time in bed as the pain left me with no energy. I never did get my 2nd dose of Shingrix and there was no other thing that changed in my life except taking that vaccine. My neurologist thinks I had an adverse reaction to the vaccine and eventually I should get better. I’m on my 2 year and see improvements. I’m currently on medication for the pain and also taking vitamin E as well. I would encourage others to seek medical help to try and obtain answers. I feel I was lucky to have a good neurologist and also answers.

  • JeffMarch 18, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    Interesting comments here. I can understand what everyone is going through. I got the 2 Shingrix vaccines September and October 2019. Both times was knocked on my butt for about 3 days. Last October I caught Covid. Fought it for 2 weeks until I realized I needed help so I went into the hospital. Immediately after receiving steroid shots I was feeling better but had inflammatory pneumonia. I was r[Show More]Interesting comments here. I can understand what everyone is going through. I got the 2 Shingrix vaccines September and October 2019. Both times was knocked on my butt for about 3 days. Last October I caught Covid. Fought it for 2 weeks until I realized I needed help so I went into the hospital. Immediately after receiving steroid shots I was feeling better but had inflammatory pneumonia. I was released after 4 nights and the doctor told me I would be fine in a couple months (I was in extremely great shape). Here's where it goes south, and I am convinced that the shingles shot is a factor). 2 1/2 weeks later my left hand stared getting numb. Then my chin and tongue, then right hand, left foot then right foot. They thought I had a compressed spine, but after an MRI, determined it was neurological. Over several weeks of progressively going downhill, now with pain, my neurologist set me up for immunoglobulin infusion therapy. I was non-functional and completely debilitated. Within days the progression stopped. Within 6 weeks I no longer needed a cane to walk. After 2 months and 3 treatments, my mouth is completely healed, the feeling and strength in my hands is returning, and I can now walk heal to toe without my feet feeling like rubber or in severe pain (although there is still some discomfort). the myelin covering my nerves is healing. it will take some time, but my doctor was amazed at my progress and told me he expects a full recovery after seeing my improvement over the weeks. initially, he was not sure if I would recover. this therapy is very expensive ($5k per infusion), but is a miracle. Fight with your insurance companies because they will not approve willingly. An EMG by your neurologist will help sell the need for immunoglobulin. Hope this helps you all get well. Jeff

  • RoseMarch 8, 2022 at 6:41 pm

    I’m so glad I found this. Like so many others, I have had the shingles vaccine on two different times. Got my 1st shingles vaccine 4 years ago, then got shingles again & got 2nd vaccine 3 years ago. I also developed neuropathy of both feet soon after the second shot. I’m on Gabapentin & ibuprofen trying to get relief. My previous dr thought I had diabetes & put me on diabetic meds. That la[Show More]I’m so glad I found this. Like so many others, I have had the shingles vaccine on two different times. Got my 1st shingles vaccine 4 years ago, then got shingles again & got 2nd vaccine 3 years ago. I also developed neuropathy of both feet soon after the second shot. I’m on Gabapentin & ibuprofen trying to get relief. My previous dr thought I had diabetes & put me on diabetic meds. That lasted one week & got off of them finding out I am Not diabetic. I’ve been to so many different Drs looking for answers. I’m now going to chiropractor for back pain which I thought was causing my neuropathy. I’m released to read so many others have this problem & probably caused from the shingles vaccine . I’ve been in a goby for 2 years now. If anyone has answers please contact me.

  • ChuckMarch 1, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    I received my 1st Shingles shot in late Sept-2019. Within days I developed Neuropathy in my feet. I received the 2nd shot in Nov-2019 and my left arm through my left pinky was numb. I have taken Gabapentin/Cymbalta which have not helped at all. I have seen two Neurologist and neither one of them can help.

  • DanielFebruary 14, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    I am experiencing all the same symptoms as others. Have been to numerous doctors with no conclusions. How do I get involved?

  • LisaFebruary 11, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    I just got my first shot for the shingles vaccine which my Dr. was highly recommending. I am a very healthy 53 year old. Couple days after the shot my left foot started a weird tingling in ball of my foot area - it felt like an electric probe and I even thought something was vibrating through the floor at first. The tingling pins and needles has continued and now the entire foot is tingling co[Show More]I just got my first shot for the shingles vaccine which my Dr. was highly recommending. I am a very healthy 53 year old. Couple days after the shot my left foot started a weird tingling in ball of my foot area - it felt like an electric probe and I even thought something was vibrating through the floor at first. The tingling pins and needles has continued and now the entire foot is tingling constantly. I hope this is not permanent neuropathy. It has been 10 days. ..

  • EllaJanuary 31, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    Got the 2nd shingle shot last week. Today, about a week later I got extensive nerve pain in my shoulder, arm, and numbness in my arm and hand. Went to the doctor and she never mentioned anything about nerve damage that could occur but prescribed me Gabapentin 100 mg for every three hours, doesn’t help, and I’m supposed to be going to pain management therapy first available date, February 21st. [Show More]Got the 2nd shingle shot last week. Today, about a week later I got extensive nerve pain in my shoulder, arm, and numbness in my arm and hand. Went to the doctor and she never mentioned anything about nerve damage that could occur but prescribed me Gabapentin 100 mg for every three hours, doesn’t help, and I’m supposed to be going to pain management therapy first available date, February 21st. What? Shot was received at Rite Aid. This is unbelievable and unacceptable!

  • jayJanuary 20, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    I had shingles shot at VA clinic and have neuropathy in my right hand. At first it was numbness in right hand thumb and index finger and now I have sharp pain in right hand. Prescribed Gabapentin but doesn't seem to help.

  • HildegardeOctober 28, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Nine months ago I got the two-part Shingrix shots for Shingles. Since my 2nd shot, I have experienced a lot of joint pain and swelling, often accompanied by sharp pains, particularly in my hands. I hear so many warnings and advertisements about how seniors should get vaccinated for Shingles but very little about these lasting, serious side effects. I would do anything to turn the clock back and [Show More]Nine months ago I got the two-part Shingrix shots for Shingles. Since my 2nd shot, I have experienced a lot of joint pain and swelling, often accompanied by sharp pains, particularly in my hands. I hear so many warnings and advertisements about how seniors should get vaccinated for Shingles but very little about these lasting, serious side effects. I would do anything to turn the clock back and never get this shot!

  • JulieSeptember 20, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    My father got the vaccine 9/2019 and 2 days later was in the hospital so confused and trouble walking. He did not even know his own birthday. The doctors preformed many tests and they could not find anything wrong with him. Ever since than he has had trouble with his balance and still experiencing memory problems

  • ClaireSeptember 2, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    I had Shingles in 2002. On my doctor's recommendation, I got the Varicella-zoster vaccine in 2013. Again, on my doctor's recommendation, I got the Shingrix vaccine a few weeks ago (August 2021). I wake up several times at night because my arm and hand feels like they are on fire. I have strong pain throughout the the day. I have an appointment to see a neurologist. I would recommend that people th[Show More]I had Shingles in 2002. On my doctor's recommendation, I got the Varicella-zoster vaccine in 2013. Again, on my doctor's recommendation, I got the Shingrix vaccine a few weeks ago (August 2021). I wake up several times at night because my arm and hand feels like they are on fire. I have strong pain throughout the the day. I have an appointment to see a neurologist. I would recommend that people think very carefully before having this vaccine, especially if they have had Shingles and/or a previous vaccine.

  • DebAugust 23, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    My doctor recommended me to get the shingles vaccine. Almost immediately I got neuropathy with no help from physical therapy for relief.

  • MichelleJuly 24, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    I received shingrex in the summer of 2020 as a requirement to begin treatment for rheumatoid arthritis with the drug Xeljanz. My doctor said this neuropathy is due to my rheumatoid arthritis but I never had these symptoms till I was given shingrex. I had I continue that weekend and didn’t even know I had urinated. Since then I have suffered from pain and numbness in my feet, legs and hands. I [Show More]I received shingrex in the summer of 2020 as a requirement to begin treatment for rheumatoid arthritis with the drug Xeljanz. My doctor said this neuropathy is due to my rheumatoid arthritis but I never had these symptoms till I was given shingrex. I had I continue that weekend and didn’t even know I had urinated. Since then I have suffered from pain and numbness in my feet, legs and hands. I am taking lyrica for the pain which helps as the pain was excruciating.

  • TaraMay 18, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    My husband received the Shingrix vaccine in an attempt to save him. He was breaking out in shingles every few months and had to stay on anti virals. The night of the shot he had the flu like symptoms, but also tremendous pain in his legs from his feet to his hips. By day three this had gone away. A couple of days later the numbness in his feet started and has continues to move upwards to just abov[Show More]My husband received the Shingrix vaccine in an attempt to save him. He was breaking out in shingles every few months and had to stay on anti virals. The night of the shot he had the flu like symptoms, but also tremendous pain in his legs from his feet to his hips. By day three this had gone away. A couple of days later the numbness in his feet started and has continues to move upwards to just above his knees. He was injected on 4/14/2021. Its now 5/18 and he is scheduled for several scans and tests already. I’m TERRIFIED OUT OF MY MIND!!! What has this poison done to my husband? What is it doing to our family?

  • SusanMay 10, 2021 at 12:01 am

    Last year got Covid mild case thought it was sinus infection. On 3/5 got Mederma got sicker than having Covid. Refused to get second shot. Got 1st shingles shot in January, no reaction. Did not get 2nd shot. In mid November my stomach started feeling like bees were stinging it. After every drs appointment, colonoscopy, GYN, dermatologist, heart scan, passed with flying colors. Three weeks ago, pl[Show More]Last year got Covid mild case thought it was sinus infection. On 3/5 got Mederma got sicker than having Covid. Refused to get second shot. Got 1st shingles shot in January, no reaction. Did not get 2nd shot. In mid November my stomach started feeling like bees were stinging it. After every drs appointment, colonoscopy, GYN, dermatologist, heart scan, passed with flying colors. Three weeks ago, playing tennis little tingling in feet. Three weeks later neurologist stated you have neuropathy. It went from my feet to legs, thighs with in 2 days. Waiting for blood test Dr has me on meds for the inflammation. Not sure if it’s Covid or vaccine causing this. If I had know all this would never had any vaccines.

  • FheliciaApril 20, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    I got the 2nd Shingrix vaccine last Thurs. The next day I started feeling pain in both legs,thighs and tingling in feet. I went to ER to rule ot blood clots from J&J vaccine a month ago. It just dawned on me that it could be the Shingrix. I googled it and I see others have had issues. I will ask my doctor could neuropathy occur that fast.

  • ElaineApril 5, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    I was vaccinated twice with the shingles vaccine. Within a year I have developed Peripheral Neuropathy. I am seeking treatment. My feet is numb, tingling, and prickly. I cannot wear shoes, hosiery comfortably or sleep well at night.

  • SueFebruary 7, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    I had peripheral neuropathy lower extremeties from Lyme have positive test results and neurological diagnosis! Pharmacist NEVER told me I could get neuropathy I already had it!!!! I have proof of shot dec 1st 2016 she didn't have me fill out front of consent form!! I have it and the "RA" brochure- now I am bedridden only learned damages a few months ago!!!

  • LindaNovember 8, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    I had the shingle shots a month ago and I’m having the neuropathy pain in my feet. That was the first place I felt pain after my first shot. I came home and I said to my husband my feet hurt like crazy. The next day it kicked my butt I felt so bad ached all over and fever. I could not move I hurt so bad. I even had to take my ponytail down because my hair on my head hurt. The second shot done me t[Show More]I had the shingle shots a month ago and I’m having the neuropathy pain in my feet. That was the first place I felt pain after my first shot. I came home and I said to my husband my feet hurt like crazy. The next day it kicked my butt I felt so bad ached all over and fever. I could not move I hurt so bad. I even had to take my ponytail down because my hair on my head hurt. The second shot done me the same way. So now my feet have continued to hurt with needle sticks tingling and numbness. I hope this will go away.

  • SherieJuly 13, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    I had the Zostavax shot on Oct. 6 2018 and developed neuropathy within a year. The pain in my feet is horrible and keeps me from enjoying many things in my life. I have had it for two years now.

  • Mary AnnMarch 28, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    I am a 62 year old female and at the time caring for an elderly man in Bristol CT. I recieved the shingles vaccine in 2017, about 6 months after I got shingles, I couldn't believe it. I went to urgent care and they thought it was first poison ivy, though I was always inside it didn't respond to steroids so then they thought it was a fungus, the medicine for that didn't help, then I finally went [Show More]I am a 62 year old female and at the time caring for an elderly man in Bristol CT. I recieved the shingles vaccine in 2017, about 6 months after I got shingles, I couldn't believe it. I went to urgent care and they thought it was first poison ivy, though I was always inside it didn't respond to steroids so then they thought it was a fungus, the medicine for that didn't help, then I finally went to my primary care doctor's clinic and saw someone for emergency appts...it was so painful, there was like a deep pain under the rash..she pulled up pictures of shingles and agreed it looked like that, gave me medication but told me it was probably too late to help. It resolved itself in a couple more weeks. But I never heard that the vaccine could be the reason why I am having horrible problems with my feet, the pain is almost daily and starts a little while after I wake up and continues and gets worse as the evening goes on, I wake up sometimes screaming because my feet are literally on fire, I thought it had something to do with my car accident in 1998, I never thought it could be because of vaccine. It actually started about 2 1/2 years ago which would make that end of 2017. Oh my Lord, I never knew that. A lawyer contacted me once but I thought I really didn't want to sue over getting shingles, it was very painful but it went away, my insurance covered everything but I didn't know it could be responsible for the pain I deal with every day and getting worse until I've questioned whether I can go on living like this, so yes I would like to talk to a lawyer, a GOOD lawyer, one who cares more about the after effects over the payoff. The other night K woke up crying because my entire leg was on fire, like someone lit a torch under my leg, it was always in my feet, it seems to be getting worse.

  • JanetMarch 17, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    I received both types of vaccinations, Zostervax and Shingrix. I now have painful peripheral neuropathy in both feet to a point where I have trouble sleeping at night and wearing almost any type of shoe is painful.

  • PatriciaMarch 2, 2020 at 6:39 am

    I received the Zostavax shingles vaccine on 7/21/17, and shortly after receiving it, I was diagnosed with Neuropathy and have been in tremendous pain ever since. I was told that I may be a little sore and swollen for a few days. Nothing else!

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