Can Vegans Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

With vaccines against coronavirus set to start rolling out in Australia in March, we are answering your questions about the vaccines, COVID-19, and vegan living.

a syringe and a mouse

Are vaccines tested on animals

Companies that make vaccines and other medicines are required by law to carry out certain tests – some of which involve using animals – before they can market their products.

PETA’s international affiliates work with government agencies around the world to change this requirement by drawing attention to the scientific failings of tests on animals and promoting the development, use, and acceptance of modern, non-animal testing methods.

Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’m vegan?

The goal of being vegan and advocating for animal rights should always be to bring about positive change for animals. As long as tests on animals are a legal requirement, refusing to take a medicine on ethical grounds will not help animals who have already been used in tests or spare any the same fate in the future.

What needs to happen is a change in the law so that animals are no longer required to suffer in tests, and you can most effectively bring this about by using your voice to speak out for animals in laboratories and supporting our work. To keep yourself and others as fit and healthy as possible – and allow you to continue advocating for animals – please follow the advice of your health-care provider on taking a medicine.

Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain animal-derived ingredients?

The vaccines that are likely to be available to Australians soonest – those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca – do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, though animal-derived materials may have been used in the production process. It is possible that future COVID-19 vaccines will contain animal-derived ingredients. An example of such an ingredient is shark squalene – an oil derived from the livers of sharks – which is sometimes added to make a vaccine better at stimulating an immune response. It should be possible to know whether a future vaccine contains animal-derived ingredients if and when it is approved for use, and at that point, it may be possible to opt for a vaccine that does not contain them on ethical grounds. Again, this is something you should discuss with your health-care provider.

Is there a link between COVID-19 and eating meat?

Yes. We can’t ignore the link between eating animals and outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19. Humans’ insatiable demand for meat, eggs, and dairy means that huge numbers of animals are reared in intensive confinement inside giant, filthy sheds, crammed into crowded lorries, and slaughtered on killing floors soaked with blood, urine, and other bodily fluids. These conditions are breeding grounds for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses.

How can I help prevent tests on animals?

Support the Research Modernisation Deal: a strategy for replacing animals in vaccine development and other biomedical research and regulatory testing. With greater investment in animal-free methods, scientists in Australia would be able to develop better treatments for human diseases. This would help end the almost unimaginable suffering of millions of mice, rats, dogs, primates, rabbits, fish, and other animals.

Please sign our petition urging the government to support a Research Modernisation Deal and end experiments on animals: