Shingrix Vaccine Packaging With Text - Does Shingrix Contain Animal Products Or Proteins?

Overview

Shingrix, the shingles (i.e. herpes zoster) vaccination recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), does not contain lanolin or animal proteins aside from the proteins contained in the cells used to culture the vaccine (more on this in the next section).

Part of the Shingrix vaccine is cultured using Chinese Hamster ovary cells so the manufacturing process does have an animal component to it. The vaccine, as administered, does contain host cell proteins (from the Chinese Hamster cells).

Nevertheless, it is considered safe to use if you have an allergy to animal proteins.


Shingrix Animal-Based Ingredients

The Shingrix vaccine consists of two components:

  • Recombinant varicella-zoster virus surface glycoprotein E (gE) antigen (i.e. the herpes zoster antigen)
  • AS01B adjuvant suspension

The varicella-zoster virus surface glycoprotein E (gE) antigen is the component which elicits the immune response in our bodies while the AS01adjuvant suspension is designed to boost this immune response.

Neither component contains animal-derived proteins (aside from small, residual amounts from the cells used to culture the vaccine).

The prescribing information for the vaccine discusses this topic specifically:

The gE antigen (herpes zoster antigen) is obtained by culturing genetically engineered Chinese Hamster Ovary cells, which carry a truncated gE gene, in media containing amino acids, with no albumin, antibiotics, or animal-derived proteins.

The AS01B component of the vaccine isn't manufactured from Chinese Hamster ovary cells but from the bacteria Salmonella minnesota. It also contains QS-21, an extract from the plant Quillaja saponaria.

Since the Shingrix vaccine is manufactured using ovary cells from the Chinese Hamster, it technically can't be considered vegan. In fact, the vaccine as administered does retain some DNA and host cells. The prescribing information states this as well:

Each dose [of Shingrix] may also contain residual amounts of host cell proteins (≤3.0%) and DNA (≤2.1 picograms) from the manufacturing process.

Even though the Shingrix vaccine does contain host cell proteins, this isn't considered an 'animal protein'. Having an allergy to animal proteins is not a contraindication for its use (i.e. it can be given even if you have an allergy to animal proteins).

In case you are curious, the full list of ingredients contained in Shingrix is as follows:

  • 50 mcg of the recombinant gE antigen (
  • 50 mcg of MPL (3-O-desacyl-4’- monophosphoryl lipid A)
  • 50 mcg of QS-21 (saponin purified from plant extract Quillaja saponaria Molina)
  • 20 mg of sucrose (as stabilizer)
  • 4.385 mg of sodium chloride
  • 1 mg of DOPC (dioleoyl phosphatidylcholine)
  • 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
  • Residual amounts of host cell proteins (≤3.0%) and DNA (≤2.1 picograms) from the manufacturing process.

Shingrix does not contain preservatives nor does it contain any antibiotics.


Summary

Shingrix does not contain animal derived proteins according to the prescribing information for the vaccine. It also does not contain lanolin. It is however, manufactured using Chinese Hamster ovary cells and a small amount of protein and DNA from these cells are present in the vaccine. If you allergic to animal-derived proteins, it is considered safe to use unless you have an allergy to any other component of the vaccine.

References
  1. Shingrix Prescribing Information. GSKPro