What’s in the COVID-19 Vaccines?

What's in the COVID-19 Vaccines?

What’s in the COVID-19 Vaccines?

By Dr. Eeks

This is a question I get a lot. I also see it on social media quite a bit. A lot of people say the ingredients haven’t been made public, and no one really knows what’s in the COVID-19 vaccines. One, that’s not true, and two, that belief leads to a lot of fear and distrust.

When it comes to what’s in the COVID-19 vaccines, let me say this: It took me a while to find them. This was about 6 months ago, and my hope is that the list of ingredients is easier to find. They currently aren’t prominently displayed on the CDC or WHO sites, and I’m hopeful that someone changes that. People want to know what is in the vaccines. It’s that simple, and it’s their right to know. People who are on the fence want to know what is in the COVID-19 vaccines. It’s one of their top questions. So making it difficult to find the ingredients doesn’t help anyone.

The other thing is, even if you find the list of ingredients, you may not know what all of them are. Some of them have long chemical names and sound scary. That’s why I chose to not only list the ingredients, but mention something about them, including common items they are found in.

So, what’s in the COVID-19 vaccines?

Let’s start with the PfizerBioNTech and Moderna vaccines. They are both mRNA vaccines.

What is mRNA? 

It stands for Messenger RiboNucleic Acid. It’s essentially a code that our cells translate into proteins. In this case, the mRNA in the vaccine includes the code for the Spike Protein on COVID-19. The Spike Protein is an ideal target for vaccines, because it’s what allows the virus to bind to and infect our cells.  (How the mRNA vaccines work can be confusing. I think the best way to “grasp” this is via video. I made one here.)

What’s in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine?



Why fats? Because they wrap around the mRNA, like a coat, and keep it from being destroyed while en route to your cells.

  1. ALC-0315 (4-Hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate): This is a synthetic fat. When used in combination with other synthetic fats, it helps our cells take up mRNA.
  2. 2 [(polyethylene glycol)[PEG]-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide ): Also called macrogols or polyether compounds and used in a variety of drugs, personal hygiene products, cosmetics and foods. Allergies to this can be diagnosed via an IDT ( intradermal skin test)
  3. 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine: A phospholipid used to form a liposome- in other words, it’s a “fat” vesicle used to deliver drugs to cells
  4. Cholesterol: A lipoprotein

3.Potassium Chloride: Potassium Salt. Used in medicines, food processing, and also known as food additive E508. Often used as a substitute for table salt

4.Monobasic Potassium Phosphate: An inorganic compound often used as a food additative or buffering agent. ( A buffering agent is something that helps balance the pH of something.)  It’s used in both Gatorade and Powerade

5.Sodium Chloride: Salt. The edible version is table salt

6.Dibasic Sodium Phosphate Dihydrate: Salt. Used in foods and water-softening treatment. Used in foods to adjust pH. Used in desserts/pudding and also as an anti-cake addititve

7.Sucrose: Table sugar

What’s in the Moderna Vaccine? 



  1. SM-102: A proprietary lipid- formula: C4H87NO5
  2. Polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol: Also called macrogols or polyether compounds and used in a variety of drugs, personal hygiene products, cosmetics and foods. Allergies to this can be diagnozed via an IDT ( intradermal skin test)
  3. 2000 Dimyristoyl Glycerol (DMG): Lipid used for drug delivery- used in some cancer delivery drugs
  4. Cholesterol: A lipoprotein

3.Tromethamine: An organic amine proton acceptor. Used to make pharmaceuticals. Used as an emulsyifing agent in skin products and used as a biological buffer ( Something that helps regulate pH)

4.Tromethamine Hydrochloride: A biologically inactive amino alcohol that buffers Carbon Dioxide & Acids and helps control pH

5.Acetic Acid: A weak acid. Acetic Acid makes up most of  Vinegar

6.Sodium Acetate: The salt version of Acetic Acid. Used commonly in foods to prolong shelf life, used in heating pads and hand warmers. When used with Acetic Acid, acts as a buffer to keep a constant pH level

7.Sucrose: Table sugar

What about allergies to these ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines?

The CDC’s current guidelines state that if you have an allergy to any ingredient listed above, do not get the vaccine. The allergy does not have to be severe.

What’s in the J&J Vaccine?

The J&J vaccine is an Adenovirus vector that is made harmless and grown in the PER.C6 cell line.* It includes the genetic code for the spike protein on COVID-19. It’s mechanism of action is very similar to the mRNA vaccines, but what is different is HOW the “message” gets delivered to our bodies.

It also includes the following inactive ingredients:

  1. Citric Acid MonoHydrate: An Organic Acid
  2. Trisodium Citrate DiHydrate: Often used as a buffer in solutions and certain medications. Also used as a food additive or a flavoring agent, like in club sodas and drink mixes
  3. Ethanol: A simple alcohol
  4. 2-Hydroxypropyl-B-Cyclodextrin: A cyclic oligosaccharide used to improve the solubility of various compounds.
  5. Polysorbate 80:  A compound used to lower the surface tension between compounds. It’s also used as an emulsifier to do things like make ice cream smoother. It’s used in lots of food products, as well as soaps, eye drops and mouthwashes.
  6. Sodium Chloride: Salt
  7. Sodium Hydroxide: A metal hydroxide “Lye” used in the manufacture of soaps, medicines, water, drain cleaner, detergents and paper. It’s a strong base.
  8. Hydrochloric Acid: A strong acid

*What is the PER.C6 cell line?  PER.C6 are retinal cells from a fetus aborted in 1985.

I hope this helps anwer what’s in the COVID-19 vaccines. If you have any questions, feel free to post below. For more information on the vaccines, I continually update my COVID-19 vaccine cheat sheet . Check it out, if you haven’t yet. If you have any questions after reading that, post those too. Even if I don’t respond directly, I try to update the blog with what people are looking for.

Also, don’t forget to check out my Causes or Cures Podcast that features experts discussing a variety of COVID-19 and other health topics too. Would love for you to subscribe. :)

Thanks for reading and catch you later,

Dr. Eeks

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4 Responses to “What’s in the COVID-19 Vaccines?”

  1. There are reports of graphene oxide being present in the vaccines, but not disclosed. Is this article and the papers it references to be dismissed, and why?

    • Hi Shawn. Sorry for responding so late. So I looked into the claim about graphene oxide and I don’t believe it has any merit. Only one researcher claims to have found it in one vial, but the 1 vial comes from an “unknown and unverified” source. It wouldn’t be prudent to run with that claim, then, given that the vial could have easily been tampered with for all we know. This finding has not been repeated anywhere else, another strike against its legitimacy. Also, graphene oxide produces a yellowish/brownish color. None of the vaccines contain such color–they are clear. Thanks for commenting! – Erin

  2. Erin Kate, thank you very much for this. I actually read it through slowly. I had a helluva good organic chemistry course in college, a mere 64 years ago.

    It’s helpful to divide the ingredient list into the active ingredients – the mRNA, the virus vector – from the adjuvants – complex, often fatty chemical structures that help the active ingredients work – and the buffers and things like that.

    The adjuvants are the hardest part to understand, obscure chemical compounds working in the background. But I strongly suspect that a lot of the problem reactions are to the adjuvants, rather than the active ingredients. Adjuvants are absolutely essential to the effective formulation of the vaccines.

    Lest anyone misunderstand me, I’m a fanatical advocate of the Covid-19 vaccine, and of most of the other vaccines out there. This 82 year old pathologist has received all of them that are up for receiving.

    • Thanks Dr. Richmond. I wanted to try to show what other common things some of the ingredients were in. There is a rumor going around that they contain heavy metals. That is not true.

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