Shingles Vaccine? Really?

Former Merck Employee speaks against VaccinationIs there a shingles vaccine? Really?  There is a shingles vaccine in name, according to Merck Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes it. Whether or not Merck’s Zostovax works as a “vaccine,” or how well it works, or whether it is worth the risks of taking it, is all another story.

Shingles Vaccine Lawsuits

Because the Merck shingles vaccine does not work as well as advertised, and may even be dangerous, some people are filing shingles vaccine lawsuits. Some have developed a case of full-blown shingles AFTER getting the “vaccine.”  Some have spent roughly $200 for the “vaccine” and then contracted shingles and suffered vision damage up to and including blindness in one eye, or postherpetic neuralgia, or other permanent nerve damage.

See also – Shingles Vaccine: Help or Hype?

Zostavax’ 1.7% Effectiveness (Seriously? Seriously.)

Health Sciences Institute (HSI) authors published a January 2016 article which reported, in part, “UCLA researchers found that only one in 175 people who get the vaccine will be able to dodge a shingles flare-up.”  Merck, meanwhile, claims Zostavax is 50% effective. Merck arrived at that tortured number this way: In the placebo group, 3.3 percent of the study participants developed shingles, compared to 1.6 percent in the vaccine group. Though that does represent a 50% difference; it also means the real, absolute risk reduction is a woeful 1.7 percent. Is that worth $200-some bucks, given the problems with this “vaccine”? Would you bet your eyesight on it?

Shingles Vaccine Research not Reliable

And even if you think a woeful 1.7% risk reduction is worth the risk of vaccination based on studies funded by the vaccine maker, consider this point from a former editor of the world’s most prestigious medical publication:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”  — Marcia Angell, MD, Drug Companies and Doctors: A story of Corruption.  NY Review of Books, Jan. 15, 2009.

Merck’s Tainted History

It seems reasonable to evaluate the vaccine’s maker to see if its advertising the effectiveness of its vaccines is believable. It’s helpful to keep in mind that Merck also produced the ill-fated Gardisil vaccine nightmare.  A Merck whistleblower recently explained that the company faked measles vaccine data in order to retain lucrative government contracts. See it here:  Merck Whistleblower.  Merck also produced Vioxx, the four-dollar aspirin that caused thousands of people heart attacks and strokes. The company settled thousands of lawsuits for a collective several billion dollars after Vioxx killed an estimated 500,000 Americans.

You don’t sell the drug; you sell the disease

Merck founder George Merck appeared in TIME magazine (the great disinformation rag which helped sell the “lone-nut” theory in the murder of JFK) in 1956. Merck surprisingly told some truth to TIME at the time. He explained that you don’t sell the drug; you sell the disease.

Merck sells  its shingles vaccine in this same old fashioned way, by selling the disease. It uses the oldest trick in the book, the Hegelian dialectic: problem/reaction/solution. Show somebody the problem, then sell them the solution. Since all vaccines are sold with the fear – it’s all about fear – all a company needs do is show the horrors of a potential “outbreak” and then swoop in with the solution. To sell the shingles vaccine, Merck displays shingles problems on its web site. You can watch a vaccine promo video there of how horrible shingles is. Then you get the non sequitur solution clearly implied: Because shingles is really bad, you need the shingles vaccine to stop it from getting you.

The glaring problem is that when you look closely, there’s no guarantee the shingles vaccine works, certainly no guarantee that it will work for you. Is it worth the risks?  The fine print will tell you it appears to lower the risk of contracting shingles for some 50 percent of at least one study’s participants, but look closer and the chance it will work at all is much lower than that. Look closer yet and you can begin to see “side effects,” the great euphemism for things that really do happen, that have happened, and that will happen again to some.

Pharmacies and television spots are pushing hard to promote the shingles vaccine. Signs tell adults 60 and older to get the “recommended” shingles vaccine.  Shingles does represent a threat to seniors.

Shingles Vaccine 51% Effective?

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) says of the shingles vaccine on its FAQ page:

•  One live virus shingles vaccine was licensed in the U.S. in 2006 for adults over 50 years, Zostavax, made by Merck.

•  The CDC recommends people 60 and older take one jab of the shingles vaccine.

•  Shingles vaccine reported complications include local swelling, pain and redness at injection site, zoster-like skin rash, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, fever, abnormally swollen glands, hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis (shock).

•  Effectiveness of the shingles vaccine is reported to be about 51 percent. (emphasis ours) The Merck shingles vaccine contains live attenuated varicella zoster virus. Vaccine strain virus transmissions from shingles-vaccinated people to others has been reported.

•  Mass use of chickenpox vaccine by children in the U.S. since 1995 has limited natural boosting of Varicella Zoster immunity in the adult population. Consequently, a significant increase has occurred in cases of Herpes zoster among adults.

Mass Vaccination triggers Shingles Outbreak

Did you get all that?  Mass vaccination of children for chicken pox reportedly triggered a large increase in shingles for adults.  Merck’s response was to repackage the chicken pox vaccine as Zostovax and make it some 14 times stronger.

The shingles vaccine is essentially the chicken pox vaccine 14X stronger. Yet it STILL only boasts an effectiveness rate of 51 percent. When you look closer, that figure is also misleading.

Contraindications for Shingles Vaccine

CDC recommends the shingles vaccine not be taken by the following people:

•  Women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant within 3 months.

•  Persons who are immunosuppressed or immune deficient, such as those with a history of leukemia, lymphoma or other •  disorders affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, AIDS or those on immunosuppressive therapy.

•  Those individuals who are experiencing an acute illness or fever.

In addition, people who have experienced a previous severe allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin should not get the shingles vaccine.

Reported side effects of Shingles Vaccine include:

•  Local swelling, pain and redness at injection site
•  Shingles like rash
•  Headache, joint pain, muscle pain, fever
•  Abnormally swollen glands
•  Anaphylaxis (shock)

Vaccine not for so-called Pro Lifers

Shingles vaccine contains consensually aborted fetal cell tissue [consensually aborted?]

The shingles vaccine ingredients, according to the product information insert:

“ZOSTAVAX is a lyophilized preparation of the Oka/Merck strain of live, attenuated varicella-zoster virus (VZV). ZOSTAVAX, when reconstituted as directed, is a sterile suspension for subcutaneous administration. Each 0.65-mL dose contains a minimum of 19,400 PFU (plaque-forming units) of Oka/Merck strain of VZV when reconstituted and stored at room temperature for up to 30 minutes. Each dose contains 31.16 mg of sucrose, 15.58 mg of hydrolyzed porcine gelatin, 3.99 mg of sodium chloride, 0.62 mg of monosodium L-glutamate (MSG), 0.57 mg of sodium phosphate dibasic, 0.10 mg of potassium phosphate monobasic, 0.10 mg of potassium chloride; residual components of MRC-5 cells including DNA and protein; and trace quantities of neomycin and bovine calf serum. The product contains no preservatives.”

MSG, Aborted Fetal Tissue for You

The shingles vaccine contains MSG and aborted fetal cell tissue, MRC-5 cells, “developed in September 1966 from lung tissue taken from a 14 week fetus aborted for psychiatric reason from a 27 year old physically healthy woman.” Pro Life advocates might care to pay attention. Is it morally ok to protest against abortion and then use the rancid results for yourself?

Does the shingles vaccine Work?

Postherpetic neuralgia from shingles can be debilitating for seniors.  Even if the shingles vaccine didn’t help reduce infections at all but significantly reduced postherpetic neuralgia, that would be potentially wonderful. However, the marketing, as usual, clashes with the reality.

According to Dr. David Brownstein, the reduction in postherpetic neuralgia from the shingles vaccine is so small as to be nearly insignificant.

Dr. Brownstein says: “Merck touts a 39% decline with the use of the vaccine. Further analysis of the data might lead you to a different conclusion. Approximately 0.4% of unvaccinated persons versus 0.14% of vaccinated people developed postherpetic neuralgia. The 39% decline is the less-than-accurate ‘relative risk’ (0.14/ 0.4). If we looked at the more accurate absolute risk, we come up with a decline of 0.26% of postherpetic neuralgia in those that were vaccinated.”

Shingles Vaccine? Really?

Really?  A tiny .26% decline in the risk of postherpetic neuralgia for those who receive the shingles vaccine?

At upwards of $200, the shingles vaccine isn’t cheap. Neither is advertising, but somebody has to pay for that advertising. Will it be you?



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