Does Shingrix Contain Pork Or Porcine Gelatin?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not Shingrix contains gelatin derived from pork (i.e. pigs).

Does Shingrix Contain Pork Or Porcine Gelatin?
Nov 28, 2019

Autumn asked

I saw your earlier answer to a question about the Zostavax shingles vaccine containing bovine ingredients. You stated "if you're looking to avoid animal-derived ingredients...Shingrix does not contain animal-derived proteins". I am allergic to both pork and beef and experience severe anaphylaxis. Shingrix ingredients include porcine gelatin. Does this rule out the vaccine for me?

At a glance

  • Shingrix does not contain porcine gelatin.
  • The other vaccine for shingles, Zostavax, does contain gelatin (~15.58 mg).


Shingrix Packaging

Hello and thank you for your question! To answer it directly, in regard to your pork allergy, Shingrix should be safe for you since it doesn't have ingredients derived from pork.

I'm not sure where you read that Shingrix contains porcine gelatin, but it does not. It is the other vaccine for shingles, Zostavax, that contains it.

If you have a reference or a source where you read this information, we would be more than happy to look into it!

The full ingredient list for Shingrix is as follows:

  • 50 mcg of the recombinant gE antigen
  • 50 mcg of MPL
  • 50 mcg of QS-21
  • 20 mg of sucrose
  • 4.385 mg of sodium chloride
  • 1 mg of DOPC
  • 0.54 mg of potassium dihydrogen phosphate
  • 0.25 mg of cholesterol
  • 0.160 mg of sodium dihydrogen phosphate dihydrate
  • 0.15 mg of disodium phosphate anhydrous
  • 0.116 mg of dipotassium phosphate
  • 0.08 mg of polysorbate 80
  • Host cell proteins (≤3.0%)
  • DNA (≤2.1 picograms) from the manufacturing process

It is important to point out that gelatin (which is derived from animals such as pigs and cows) is used in some vaccines. When used, it acts as a stabilizer and functions to protect vaccine components from degradation during the manufacturing and storage process.

It's not uncommon to be sensitive or even allergic to gelatin derived from animals. In fact, numerous studies have reported that the rate of allergic reactions to a given vaccine decreases if the amount of gelatin used is decreased or removed altogether.

Since gelatin is derived from animals, it is important to know if a drug product contains it if you need to avoid such ingredients. As mentioned, Shingrix does not have porcine gelatin (in fact, it is gelatin-free) but Zostavax does (15.58 mg per dose according to the prescribing information).

We wrote another article regarding Shingrix and animal-derived ingredients, which you can check out if you wish.

Lastly, if you are curious about other excipients (i.e. ingredients other than the antigen) that may be added to a given vaccine, the CDC has posted a reference list that can be found on their website.

  1. Zostavax Prescribing Information. Merck
  2. Vaccine Excipient Summary. CDC
  3. Change in gelatin content of vaccines associated with reduction in reports of allergic reactions. JACI
  4. Shingrix Prescribing Information. GSK

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