Are Vaccines Made with Fetal Cells? The Vaccine Mom Explains.
Jun 04, 2021

In this video for the Shot of Prevention blog, Taryn (AKA “The Vaccine Mom”) — a molecular biologist and mom of two — tackles the question: Are vaccines made with fetal cells? Listen as she breaks down the science of when and why fetal cells are used to make some vaccines, where the cells come from, and why the cells themselves aren’t actually in the vaccine. Read below for the full transcript. 

Taryn: 

Hi, I’m Taryn, and I’m The Vaccine Mom. I’m a molecular biologist and the mother of two. So you might have heard that a few vaccines are made using fetal cell lines. This does not mean that they are made using fetal cell tissue. What is going on here?

Way back in the 60s and 70s some cells were collected after a couple of pregnancies were ended by choice. These cells were taken to a lab to divide and grow. The original cells divided many times and are still dividing today. This is what we call a fetal cell line.

The fetal cells that we use today are thousands of generations removed from the original fetal cells that were collected back in the 60s and 70s. We aren’t using any new fetal cell tissue today to create any new fetal cell lines.

The reason that we use these cells is because viruses grow really well in them. So much better than in animal cells. And we need to grow viruses in order to develop some vaccines. But while we might grow vaccine viruses in cells, those cells don’t end up in the vaccine itself. That’s because when a virus is grown in a cell, it causes the cell to eventually break apart.


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Then, when vaccines are manufactured, the cells are purified, and all of the cell particles and pieces of DNA that might be left are removed. Vaccine manufacturers want to make sure the vaccines are as safe and as pure as possible.

Some people are worried that the use of these cell lines in vaccines could be a moral or religious dilemma. If that’s you, you may be happy to know that most religions, including Catholics, have said it’s OK to use vaccines made using these cells, especially when the alternative would be to go unvaccinated.

Most religions agree that the use of these vaccines is justifiable because they save lives and that it’s our moral responsibility to get vaccinated for the common good. Thanks for watching!

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