Lawsuit Alleges Recurring Shingles Outbreaks Caused By Zostavax Vaccine

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A California woman indicates that she has suffered recurring shingles outbreaks due to the side effects of the Zostavax vaccine, which was supposed to prevent such outbreaks from occurring.

Jeanette Keltz filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on September 9, indicating that Merck & Co. sold an unreasonably dangerous and defective vaccine, which actually increases the risk that some users will develop the issue it was intended to prevent.

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.

According to the lawsuit, Keltz received the Zostavax vaccine in April 2017. However, in September 2017, she was diagnosed with shingles, following an outbreak of blisters on her legs, arms and ribcage. The outbreak lasted three weeks and she required medical treatment.

Keltz continued to suffer from recurring shingles outbreaks, with additional problems surfacing in November 2017, at which time she described to her doctor that it felt like something was “biting her from inside.”

“Plaintiff continued to have reoccurring shingles outbreaks throughout the end of 2017 and throughout 2018 as a result of the Zostavax vaccine, including extreme pain and numbness in her left leg which all resulted in medical treatment,” the lawsuit states. “Pain and tingling sensations in her skin, as a result of Zostavax, are permanent and continue today.

The complaint joins hundreds of other Zostavax vaccine lawsuits filed by individuals nationwide who experienced problems with Zostavax.

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