Is Shingrix Bovine Derived?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses the ingredients of Shingrix.


My question relates to neomycin and shingrix vaccine. Just to clarify, it appears this ingredient is in zostavax due to the bovine component, and is not found in the shingrix vaccine ingredients at all. I am asking due to my own penicillin allergy. Thank you

Asked by ldueber On Jun 28, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Jun 29, 2018

You are correct that Zostavax, the previously recommended shingles vaccine manufactured by Merck, is bovine derived. Shingrix however, is not. In addition, it does not contain neomycin and is safe for those with a neomycin allergy. It is also safe for those with a penicillin allergy (although neomycin and penicillin are not related nor are in the same class of antibiotics.

The ingredients of Shingrix are as follows:

  • Recombinant gE antigen (50 mcg)
  • Monophosphoryl lipid A (50 mcg)
  • QS-21 50 mcg (saponin purified from plant extract Quillaja saponaria)
  • Sucrose 20 mg
  • Sodium chloride 4.385 mg
  • DOPC (dioleoyl phosphatidylcholine) 1 mg
  • Potassium dihydrogen phosphate 0.54 mg
  • Cholesterol 0.25 mg
  • Sodium dihydrogen 0.160 mg
  • Phosphate dihydrate
  • Disodium phosphate anhydrous 0.15 mg
  • Dipotassium phosphate 0.116 mg
  • Polysorbate 80 0.08 mg
  • Residual amounts of host cell proteins (≤3.0%) and DNA (≤2.1 picograms) from the manufacturing process.

Lastly, the prescribing information for Shingrix states:

"The gE antigen [varicella zoster virus] 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."

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Office: 716-389-3076

About Shingrix

Shingrix is a recombinant vaccine recommended for adults at least 50 years of age and older to prevent shingles and related complications. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that all adults 50 years of age and older and without a contraindication (e.g. an allergy) receive herpes zoster vaccination with (Shingrix), even in those who previously received Zostavax. Shingrix is given as a two shot series, with doses separated by 2 to 6 months. In studies, Shingrix has been shown to maintain its efficacy for longer periods of time when compared to Zostavax. In addition, Shingrix is not a live vaccine, unlike Zostavax.

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