The latest COVID-19 vaccine to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration belongs to Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). This game-changing viral vector vaccine only requires one dose and will greatly expand the availability of vaccines across the country. The FDA regulatory processes for new drug approval includes animal testing during the research phases. Unfortunately, no medication can be truly labeled as “vegan” because of this. The more appropriate labeling would be “animal-free” (i.e. products not containing any animal-derived ingredients). So yes, the J&J Vaccine is Animal Free.
COVID Vaccine and Animal-Derived Ingredients
Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine does NOT contain any adjuvants, preservatives, human- or animal-derived ingredients. However, we have not worked with the company directly to independently certify that it is Animal-Free.
If you would like VeganMed to certify the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, please “like” this post and leave a comment at the bottom. This is the only way for us to be certain that the vaccine is free from any animal-derived ingredients. Through your support, we can push for positive change in the pharmaceutical industry, such as reducing the use of animal-derived ingredients in medications.
Remember, your health comes first!
It’s important to remember that the COVID-19 vaccines will play a critical role in managing the pandemic and saving lives. At VeganMed, we believe that your health should always come first. In a previous blog post, we explained how that the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine contains bovine milk, which is an animal-derived ingredient, while the Moderna vaccine does not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Similar to the Moderna vaccine, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine does not contain any animal-derived ingredients either. Given the urgency of this pandemic and the limited supply of these vaccines, it is highly recommended to receive the vaccine that is offered to you rather than waiting for a more suitable option. A decision to avoid taking a medication or vaccine can be dangerous and all medical decisions should be made after seeking the guidance of your doctor. We stand behind the philosophy that veganism should be embraced as far as practically possible.
What ingredients do the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine contain?
Recombinant, replication, incompetent Ad26 vector, encoding a stabilized variant of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein
Citric acid monohydrate
Trisodium citrate dihydrate
Water for injection
What are some common side effects of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?
At face value, it appears as if Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine has less side effects compared to Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines as outlined here. However, it is important to note that adverse reaction rates from the three clinical trials cannot be directly compared due to the widely varying conditions among the three trials and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
Can I track COVID-19 vaccine side effects?
The CDC has launched V-safe, an app that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized check-ins after you receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Through V-safe, you can report to the CDC any side effects you may be experiencing after getting the vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may even call you for more information. This is a great way for you to contribute to the safe deployment of the vaccine!
Can the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine be used to complete a vaccination series initiated with another COVID-19 vaccine?
No, there is no data available to support this scenario.
Are there any developments towards vegan medications?
It is unfortunate that medications require animal testing during the research phases. However, we are encouraged by new developments in alternatives to animal testing. These include in vitro methods and computer simulation models. Although we still have a way to go before we can eliminate animal testing for good, it's important that we continue to work together as a community to advocate for change. Through collectively voicing our concerns with regulators, pharmaceutical companies and medical leaders, we believe there is a path towards positive change.
Ingredients within medications are notoriously complicated to understand. Even as pharmacists, we can find it challenging! So what about animal-derived ingredients? We believe it should be easier to determine if your medications are animal-free and that's why we created VeganMed. We aim to provide much needed transparency to consumers and to help create a world where medications are completely free from animal-derived ingredients. Importantly, medical bodies are starting to listen. We recently wrote about new recommendations from the American Medical Association (AMA) urging manufacturers for better labeling of animal-derived ingredients and encouraging better cultural awareness regarding patient preferences. We are also encouraged by the efforts of companies like iBio CDMO, who are providing unique plant-based manufacturing methodologies.
Janssen. JANSSEN COVID-19 Vaccine [package insert]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. https://www.janssenlabels.com/emergency-use-authorization/Janssen+COVID-19+Vaccine-HCP-fact-sheet.pdf. Revised February 27, 2021.
Janssen. JANSSEN COVID-19 Vaccine [fact sheet]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration website. https://www.fda.gov/media/146305/download. Revised February 27, 2021.
Janssen. JANSSEN COVID-19 Vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) Vaccine Preparation and Administration Summary. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/janssen/downloads/Janssen-Prep-and-Admin-Summary.pdf. Revised March 6, 2021.
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Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!
If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!