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Q: How do I find out what ingredients are in a vaccine and any use of aborted fetal cells?

Vaccine Ingredients: There are several resources the public can use to find out what is in a vaccine and if a vaccine contains material derived from an aborted fetal cell line.

  • National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC): Maintains links to vaccine manufacturer package these inserts on the FDA’s website for each vaccine in our Disease and Vaccine webpages under Quick Facts. Look at section 11 – Description in vaccine manufacturer package inserts for this information.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Keeps the most current vaccine manufacturer package insert on their website.
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Ingredients used in vaccines available in on the CDC's website.
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Keeps links to package inserts, as well vaccine component, excipient and allergen tables that assist in identifying vaccine ingredients.

Aborted Fetal Cell Line Material: With regard to the presence of genetic or cellular material derived from a human aborted fetal cell line in vaccines, or their use in the development of vaccines, they too are listed within the vaccine manufacturer package inserts. They can also be found via the list links above for the CDC. 

Below is additional information and terminology to assist in recognizing whether material from an fetal aborted cell line is present in a vaccine, or were used in the development of a vaccine. However, the below is not a complete list.

  • MRC-5 and WI-38 are fetal lung fibroblast cell lines. MRC-5 cells are from a 14 week old female child aborted in 1966 and WI-38 cells are from a 3 month male child aborted in 1962.
  • HEK or HEK 293 cells are Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK) cells from a child aborted in 1972. These cells are used to develop and test some of the COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • PER.C6 cells are retinal cells from an 18 week old aborted child and are also used to develop some of the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • WALVAX 2 cells are from the lung tissue of a 3 month old female aborted child and is a newer cell line that does not appear to be in use yet in the U.S. It is possible that this cell line could replace MRC-5 and WI-38 cells in use in vaccines at some point in the future.

According to vaccine product inserts on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's website, the following vaccines involve use of aborted fetal cell lines.

Media coverage of COVID-19 vaccines under development have indicated that PER.C6 and HEK cells are used in some COVID-19 vaccines.

Other Non-human Cell Lines: Cell lines used in vaccine development come from more than human cells and include the use of cells from chickens, dogs, cows, pigs, hamsters, and insects. To determine the presence of these cells, please consult the above resource links for vaccine ingredient information.

To learn more about diseases and vaccines and their associated risks and benefits, visit NVIC’s well-referenced Disease and Vaccine webpages. As always, NVIC encourages consumers to continue to research to inform themselves as they make vaccination decisions.


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