What is gelatin

Gelatin is a protein product derived from collagen. It is added to some vaccines to act as a stabiliser to ensure they remain effective after manufacture. The type of gelatin used in vaccines (usually porcine in origin) is different from the gelatin used in foods (usually bovine in origin) and is highly purified.

Gelatin allergy

The incidence of anaphylaxis to gelatin is extremely low. Some individuals with an allergy to gelatin will react to the ingestion of gelatin. Others react only when a vaccine containing gelatin is injected or with the use of intraoperative hemostatic agents (e.g. surgical Gelfoam®).

Gelatin and vaccines

Gelatin in vaccines can cause allergic reactions therefore people with severe allergies to gelatin should avoid gelatin-containing vaccines.

Patients who report allergic reactions to the ingestion of gelatin should seek expert advice before receiving any vaccine containing gelatin.

Vaccines licensed in Australia which contain gelatin (porcine)

  • MMRII® (measles-mumps-rubella)
  • ProQuad® (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella)
  • Varivax® (varicella)
  • Zostavax® (varicella-zoster)
  • Rabavert® (rabies)
  • Merieux® (rabies)
  • Vivotif® (typhoid)

If you have any concerns regarding a gelatin allergy and immunisation, please discuss with a healthcare professional or immunisation specialist. 

Resources

Authors: Adele Harris (SAEFVIC Research Nurse, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Nigel Crawford (Director, SAEFVIC, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Kirsten Perrett (Clinician Scientist Fellow, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) & Nicole Wong (Immunisation Fellow, Royal Children’s Hospital)

Reviewed by: Rachael McGuire (SAEFVIC Research Nurse, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Date: July 2020

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.