Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain live coronavirus cells?

No, there are no live coronavirus cells in any approved COVID-19 vaccine. 

  • Pfizer & Moderna: Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. Messenger RNA vaccines – also called mRNA vaccines – are a type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. They may seem new, but they've been studied for decades as a strategy to combat other infectious diseases such as Zika and rabies. In short: mRNA vaccines teach our immune system cells how to recognize and respond in case they encounter the real thing. 
  • Novavax: A protein subunit vaccine that contains spike proteins of the virus that causes COVID-19. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine contains another ingredient called an adjuvant. It helps the immune system respond to that spike protein. After learning how to respond to the spike protein, the immune system will be able to respond quickly to the actual virus spike protein and protect you against COVID-19.


Last Reviewed: 11/8/23

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1. Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
2. I lost my vaccine card or need to obtain my vaccination records. What should I do?
3. If I previously had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to be vaccinated?
4. Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain live coronavirus cells?
5. What if I have a weakened immune system or a medical condition? Should I still get a vaccine?