Schexnaydre Law Firm, LLC

Shingles Vaccine Not Included in National Vaccine Injury Program

By David Schexnaydre, Esq.

The Court of Federal Claims has ruled that the shingles vaccine is not included in the National Vaccine Injury Program after Ms. Ina Scanlon filed a claim seeking damages for the immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) she suffered as a result of receiving the varicella zoster vaccine, commonly referred to as the shingles vaccine.

It is important to note the difference between the varicella vaccine (chicken pox) and the varicella zoster vaccine (shingles).  While both vaccines are manufactured by Merck, the chicken pox vaccine is indicated "for individuals 12 months of age and older," whereas the shingles vaccine is indicated "for individuals 50 years of age and older."

In ruling that the shingles vaccine is outside the scope of the National Vaccine Injury Program, the court ruled: "Compensation under the Program is awarded to any individual injured by administration of a designated childhood vaccine, including adults.  However, it is awarded only to individuals 'who have been injured by vaccines routinely administered to children.' The Act 'concerns only the actions of those injured by specified childhood vaccines and the manufacturers of such vaccines,' and 'funding for the Program is provided through a tax to be placed on designated childhood vaccines.'" [Emphasis in original.]  The court noted that the chicken pox vaccine is routinely administered to children, while the shingles vaccine is not.  Additionally, the court noted that the Secretary of Health and Human Services has not published a notice of coverage related to the shingles vaccine and Congress has not enacted an excise tax related to it.  "Therefore, varicella zoster is not included under Category XIII of the Vaccine Injury Table," the court held.

Until such time as the Secretary publishes a notice of coverage related to the shingles vaccine and Congress enacts an excise tax related to it, any lawsuit associated with adverse events from the shingles vaccine must be brought in either state or federal court.

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