New York Personal Injury Law Blog

Vaccines: Greatest health debate of the 21st century? See the Film: The Truth About Vaccines

We're are witnessing the most intense health debate of the 21st century, and you are going to want to have a front row seat:

Zostavax shingles vaccine can cause serious injuries and fatalities

Merck & Co. is facing lawsuits by several individuals who were injured as a result of the Zostavax shingles vaccine. According to FiercePharma, these injuries include vision impairment, brain injuries and paralysis. Additionally, this vaccine may have led to the wrongful death of some patients.

While only a few lawsuits are currently pending in Pennsylvania courts, there could be additional lawsuits as more individuals come forward with their injuries. With any vaccine injury, it can often be difficult to initially diagnose the cause of the injury. However, as awareness grows around the side effects of Zostavax, more individuals may connect their side effects and serious injuries with the vaccine. 

Young parents more likely to see risk in vaccinating their children

The majority of Americans believe that the benefits of vaccinating their children outweigh the risks. In fact, according to a recent study from Pew Research, 82 percent of adults believe that vaccines should be required, even for healthy children. Only 10 percent of adults believe that the risks outweigh the benefits.

However, in the same study, it was found that 43 percent of parents with children aged 0-4 believe that there is a high or medium risk with vaccines for their children. This is much higher than with parents with no children under 18, where only 29 percent believe there is a high or medium risk with vaccination.

Risk in giving a flu shot to a baby

Every parent wants to do the best for their child, and give them the care and support they need. In most cases, giving your child the flu shot to prevent an illness will result in no injuries. In some cases, a child may have a minor allergic reaction to the vaccine. In the rarest of cases, a baby can develop a serious and life-threatening injury as a result of a vaccine.

This is what happened to a seven-month old-baby in Nebraska last year. In late April, Arden Riley received a flu vaccine. Five days later, she had developed a rare case of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Luckily, Arden was able to get treatment and recover from this injury.

The risks of a forced flu vaccine

In some lines of work, employers may try to push employees to get a flu vaccine. This is especially true in the medical profession. Many nurses, across the U.S., are forced to get the flu vaccine each year.

While in the majority of cases the flu vaccine is harmless and helps to prevent the spread of illness, there are risks with taking the flu vaccine. As you know, this is true with any type of medical procedure, however minor it may seem.

Should vaccine manufacturers still be shielded from liability?

For the past 30 years, the companies that make vaccines have been largely shielded from lawsuits for their negligence. Instead, if you are injured by a vaccine, you seek compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). That program is funded by taxpayers, and provides compensation to individuals who have suffered serious injuries as a result of a vaccine.

As of November 1, 2016, VICP has paid $3.5 billion to injured vaccine victims.

Steps to take if you are injured by a vaccine

Vaccines help to prevent the spread of serious diseases and protect you from harm. However, in rare cases, a vaccine can lead to serious side effects that can result in serious pain, lasting injuries and even fatalities.

If you are concerned that you may be suffering a serious side effect from a vaccine, there are some steps you can take to protect your rights. This includes:

What to do if you have a serious reaction to the flu vaccine

Millions of people get the flu vaccine every year in the U.S. The majority of those people have no symptoms or minor symptoms that go away after a couple of days. For a small minority, however, the flu vaccine can cause a severe allergic reaction or lead to a serious injury.

Common side effects that may go away

If you start to have symptoms after the flu vaccine, they may be common symptoms that will go away quickly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this includes a low fever, aches and pains and soreness where you got the shot. These symptoms often appear within hours or days of getting the flu vaccine, and will go away within a few days.

Risk of ADEM for children getting vaccines

Whether or not to vaccinate your child is a hot-button issue. But regardless of the side you take, there are risks when anyone receives a vaccine. One risk, while very rare, is that a child can contract acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) after receiving a vaccine.

While it is rare, there have been reported incidents of vaccines causing acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), more often in children than adults. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it is believed that ADEM affects about 1 in 125,000 to 250,000 individuals each year. Of these cases, about five percent are believed to involve vaccines.


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