Hepatitis B vaccines are made using baker’s yeast and residual quantities of yeast proteins are contained in the final product. Engerix-B (GlaxoSmithKline) contains no more than 5 mg per ml and Recombivax HB (Merck and Co.) contains no more than 1 mg per ml of yeast proteins. Two combination vaccines, Pediarix and Twinrix, that contain the hepatitis B vaccine (Engerix-B) also contain no more than 5 mg per ml. Pediarix combines hepatitis B with diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio vaccines; Twinrix, an adult vaccine, combines hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.
The version of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine known as Gardasil® contains less than 0.007 mg of yeast proteins; the other version, Cervarix®, does not contain yeast proteins.
Severe allergic reactions (including hives, difficulty breathing or low blood pressure) have been observed rarely after receipt of hepatitis B vaccine (about one case per 600,000 doses). However, allergy to yeast proteins does not appear to be the cause of these allergic reactions.
Barbaud A, Tréchot P, Reichert-Pénétrat S, et al. Allergic mechanisms and urticaria/angioedema after hepatitis B immunization. Br J Dermatol. 1998;139:916-941.
Brightman CA, Scadding GK, Dumbreck LA, et al. Yeast-derived hepatitis B vaccine and yeast sensitivity. Lancet 1989;i:903.
Hudson TJ, Newkirk M, Gervais F, Shuster J. Adverse reaction to the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1991;88:821-822.
Lear JT, English JS. Anaphylaxis after hepatitis B immunization. Lancet 1995;345:1249.
Wiederman G, Scheiner O, Ambrosch F, et al. Lack of induction of IgE and IgG antibodies to yeast in humans immunized with recombinant hepatitis B vaccines. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol. 1988;85:130-132 .
Reviewed by: Paul A. Offit, MD
Date: April 2013
Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.