Merck Pharmaceuticals developed a shingles vaccine in 2006 we now know may cause eye damage. The FDA has approved a label change to Merck’s Zostavax® vaccine prescribing information. The label change now  adds necrotizing retinitis as a side effect.  Merck now faces possible Shingles Vaccine Lawsuits over the Zostavax® vaccine.

Keratitis Vision Damage from Zostavax®

Keratitis causes inflammation and scarring of the eye tissue. Keratitis is inflammation of the clear layer on the front of the eye. If a person has keratitis and fails to get treated fast, it can lead to permanent vision loss. Researchers have found 20 cases of keratitis in children and adults that occurred within a month of receiving a chickenpox or shingles vaccine. Keratitis symptoms for adults developed within 24 days of vaccination, while symptoms in children began within 14 days of vaccination. WebMD reported “The researchers said there is a probable relationship between the vaccine and the eye inflammation” even though the study wasn’t designed to prove the vaccine actually caused the condition.

Shingles Vaccine causes Shingles

According to the CDC, the Zostavax® vaccine reduced shingles by about half (51%) in adults 60 years and older. That is not a good percentage benefit given the risks. Further, the length of protection offered by the vaccine is unclear and studies are underway to determine exactly how long the vaccine protects against shingles.

Merck’s product insert states: “Vaccination with Zostavax® does not result in protection of all vaccine recipients. The duration of protection beyond 4 years after vaccination with Zostavax® is unknown. The need for revaccination has not been defined.”

Worse yet, in August 2014, FDA approved a label change to Merck’s Zostavax® warning that the shingles vaccine actually causes shingles!

Shingles Vaccine causes necrotizing retinitis

In February 2016 the FDA warned that Zostavax® can cause acute necrotizing retinitis (ARN), a condition that if not treated immediately can lead to permanent loss of vision. A warning about this potential side effect now appears on the medicine insert that comes with the vaccine. Patients with ARN typically present with acute onset of vision loss in one eye, which may be associated with redness, photophobia, pain, floaters, and flashes.

Other Side Effects of Zostavax®

The Zostovax® label lists the most common side effects as “headache, redness, pain, itching, swelling, hard lump, warmth, or bruising where the shot was given.”  Also listed are:

  • allergic reactions, which may be serious and may include difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
  • chickenpox
  • fever
  • hives at the injection site
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • nausea
  • rash
  • rash at the injection site
  • shingles
  • swollen glands near the injection site (that may last a few days to a few weeks)

If you or someone you love took the Zostavax® vaccine, and are injured, call 1-855-566-4648 or fill out the Longo Legal contact form.