Advising individuals with religious or other dietary practices and beliefs on their suitability for the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca

Ashley Marsden, Senior Medicines Optimisation Pharmacist, Pharmacy Practice Unit, Royal Liverpool HospitalPublished Last updated See all updates

Background

Both the manufacturing process for AstraZeneca and the presence of excipients may affect individuals perceptions of its suitability.

Below are facts to help you answer questions from patients.

Animal or human derived content

The manufacturer states that the vaccine is produced in a human cell line. These cells are lysed to release the vaccine and the cell debris is filtered during vaccine production. The manufacturer states that the final vaccine product does not contain human-derived cells.

For further information about the COVID-19 vaccines please refer to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA – formerly known as PHE) Immunisation Against Infectious Disease (the Green Book).

Chapter 1 of UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Immunisation Against Infectious Disease (the Green Book) also contains a section on ‘How are vaccines made’ (page 4).

Egg content

The manufacturer states that the vaccine does not contain eggs. However, AstraZeneca does not manufacture the raw materials used in its products, and the suppliers may periodically change. Lack of contact with other ingredients during the manufacturing process cannot be guaranteed.

Excipients present

The excipients listed in the manufacturer’s information are as follows:

  • L-Histidine
  • L-Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate
  • Magnesium chloride hexahydrate
  • Polysorbate 80
  • Ethanol
  • Sucrose
  • Sodium chloride
  • Disodium edetate dihydrate
  • Water for injections

The vaccine contains less than 1 mmol sodium (23 mg) per dose, i.e. it is essentially ‘sodium-free’.

Gluten

The manufacturer states that the vaccine does not contain any gluten. However, AstraZeneca does not manufacture the raw materials used in its products, and the suppliers may periodically change. Lack of contact with other ingredients during the manufacturing process cannot be guaranteed.

Jewish community

The Conference of European Rabbis has released a position statement.

Muslim community

Halal certification

There is no information on Halal certification for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, the British Islamic Medical Association has released a position statement.

Thiomersal content

Suitability for vaccination is unlikely to be affected for individuals avoiding thiomersal.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Immunisation Against Infectious Disease (the Green Book) highlights that thiomersal is a mercury based compound used as a preservative in the manufacture of some vaccines for many years and has been associated with some safety concerns.

The manufacturer states that this vaccine does not contain any preservatives, thiomersal or any mercury derived product.

Change history

  1. Information regarding suitability for fasting during Ramadan removed
  1. Link to British Islamic Medical Association information about Fasting (Ramadan) added
  1. Page title changed from "Excipients information for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine"
  2. Page summary and purpose changed to enable application of excipients information in practice
  3. Information expanded to capture all relevant points related to diet and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination
  1. Advice from the Conference of European Rabbis added
  1. Information from manufacturer added with hyperlinks to relevant document
  1. Advice from British Islamic Medical Association added
  1. Published