Vaccination of children and adults is an important part of building “herd immunity.” The premise of herd immunity is based on the idea that, though any given vaccine is not one-hundred percent effective in all people, the likelihood of transmission from person to person drops to near zero the more people who are successfully immunized.
Most vaccines are formulated using only dead virus. Because of this, the risk of actually contracting the virus from the vaccine is non-existent. But some vaccines use a live attenuated virus, a virus that has been weakened to the point that, at least in theory, it is not capable of infecting the host or others.
The method by which infection from a live attenuated vaccine causes disease is called vaccine shedding, and has been known since at least the 1950s, when some people interacting with others who had been administered the Polio vaccine became infected. Determining whether or not a particular disease was caused by vaccine shedding or another form of exposure can be difficult, as retracing the footsteps of a person and figuring out who all they interacted with can be practically impossible.
Zostavax is a live virus vaccine designed to prevent shingles, mostly in elderly patients who are most susceptible to these infections. Shingles occur in people who had the chickenpox virus. It is believed that before the chickenpox vaccine was developed, regular exposure to the virus from infected people served as a functional vaccine booster and limited shingles infections. This is no longer the case.
In some patients, Zostavax vaccines have been associated with recurrent shingles, resulting in significant pain and difficulties participating in daily living situations. The precise mechanism is not yet determined, but enough cases have arisen to make the risk clear. Others who have been administered Zostavax have suffered a variety of side effects, including ongoing nerve pain.
If you or someone you love has suffered after receiving a vaccine such as Zostavax, and you believe you vaccine have played a role, please consult with an experienced attorney. Releasing dangerous vaccines only serves to undermine public confidence in the medical establishment, and companies that continue to do so must be held accountable.