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Zostavax Vaccine Caused Shingles Outbreak and Bilateral Pneumonia, Lawsuit Claims

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Shortly after being vaccinated with the Zostavax vaccine, a product liability lawsuit indicates that the injection not only caused a shingles outbreak it was designed to prevent, but also resulted in pneumonia and severe breathing problems.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Atin Sinha earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, indicating that Merck sold a defective and dangerous shingles vaccine that was not sufficiently weakened to avoid causing the disease it was designed to prevent.

Sinha received the Zostavax shingles vaccine in July 2017, and developed a painful shingles outbreak. In addition, Sinha experienced shortness of breath and was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia, which the lawsuit blames on Zostavax side effects.

Zostavax was introduced in 2006, involving a single-dose injection that contains a live virus designed to vaccinate older adults against the development of shingles. However, the vaccine has been linked to a large number of reports involving severe complications, where individuals experienced more persistent shingles outbreaks, as well as other infections and auto-immune disorders, shortly after exposure to Zostavax.

The complaint joins hundreds of other Zostavax vaccine lawsuits filed by individuals throughout the U.S. Court System, each raising similar allegations that Merck sold an unreasonably dangerous and defective injection, which contained a live-virus that was not sufficiently weakened.

“Merck had a duty to design, create, and manufacture products that were reasonably safe and not unreasonably dangerous for their normal, common, and intended use. Merck’s product was not reasonably fit, suitable, or safe for its anticipated use, and safer, reasonable alternative designs existed and could have been utilized,” the lawsuit states. “Reasonably prudent manufacturers would not have placed the product in the stream of commerce with knowledge of these design flaws.”

Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the lawsuits over Zostavax, the federal 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.

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.

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