‘HPV Vaccine Tourism’ Reported by Chinese Women
A shortage of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in China has led thousands of women to seek treatment in neighboring countries, causing price increases and vaccine shortages, reports the Financial Times (FT).
This is important since 28% of the world’s cervical cancer patients are reported to be in China.
These Chinese women are concerned they will not be able to complete their vaccinations on schedule to prevent cervical cancer.
The Chinese market currently features Merck's original Gardasil, which protects against just 4 types of HPV, and Cervarix from GlaxoSmithKline, which protects against 2 types.
It appears that during October 2017, Gardasil 9 became ‘temporarily on limited supply.’ Merck, Gardasil’s manufacturer, said they ‘expect this vaccine shortage to continue through July 2018.’
According to the Financial Times, Gardasil 9 can only be obtained at 1 Chinese hospital. That facility told the FT it received 500,000 phone calls within 3 days of the vaccine becoming available.
“Thinking about my family members who died of cancer, I decided it was worth receiving the vaccine at any cost,” said Huang Yunjia, 23, who traveled more than 1,300km from southwestern China to Hong Kong three times in the past year for HPV injections costing HK $4,500 (US$570).
The shift in destinations appears to have created new HPV vaccine shortages.
Two hospitals in Malaysia and one in Singapore that are recommended in online forums for Chinese women told the FT that they had run out of stock of Gardasil.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of June 8, 2018, the HPV vaccine is not listed as ‘Delay or Shortage.’
HPV vaccines can be found in most pharmacies and physician offices in the USA.
To schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit this page.
The CDC Vaccine Price List provides HPV vaccine prices for general information. And vaccine discounts can be found here.
Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.