Gelatine in vaccines

Gelatine derived from pigs is used in some live vaccines as a stabiliser to protect live viruses against the effects of temperature. All forms of gelatine for use in medicines are manufactured under strict hygiene and safety regulations.

Gelatine in vaccines is highly purified and hydrolysed (broken down by water), so it is different from the natural gelatine used in foods. For example, very sensitive scientific tests have shown that no DNA from pigs can be detected in the nasal flu vaccine (Fluenz).

These tests show that the gelatine is broken down so much that the original source cannot be identified.

There have been a tiny number of cases of allergic reactions to vaccines containing gelatine -about one case for every 2 million doses of vaccine. People with a known allergy to gelatine should seek medical advice before receiving vaccines containing gelatine.


Members of some religious communities may be concerned about using vaccines that contain gelatine from pigs.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) spoke to the Kashrut and Medicines Information Service, who said:

‘It should be noted that according to Jewish laws, there is no problem with porcine or other animal-derived ingredients in non-oral products. This includes vaccines, including those administered via the nose, injections, suppositories, creams and ointments.’

Some Muslim leaders have also ruled that the use of gelatine in vaccines does not break religious dietary laws, because it is highly purified, and it is also injected or inhaled rather than eaten.


The final decision about whether or not to be vaccinated, or have your child vaccinated, is yours. In order to come to an informed decision, you may wish to have a look at the evidence about the advantages and disadvantages of having yourself or your child vaccinated.

The following vaccines used in the UK contain gelatine:

  • Fluenz - the Nasal Flu vaccine. The inactivated flu vaccine can be given as an alternative to the nasal flu vaccine
  • MMRVaxPro - one of the MMR vaccines. Priorix, the other MMR vaccine used in the UK, can be given as an alternative.
  • Zostavax – one of the shingles vaccine. Shingrix is the standard shingles vaccine in the UK and does not contain gelatine.
  • Varivax -one of the chickenpox vaccines. Varilrix, the other chickenpox vaccine used in the UK, can be given as an alternative.

More information can be found in the NHS leaflet 'Vaccines and porcine gelatine' . This information is also available in Arabic Bengali  and Urdu .

If you would like further information about specific vaccines before making a decision, your GP or practice nurse will be happy to answer any questions you have.