HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, China

Chinese tourists flood Hong Kong for overpriced HPV vaccine

Supply is running out fast.

Mainland Chinese tourists are trooping to Hong Kong to get vaccinated against HPV, but many face disappointment due to rapidly depleting stocks.

A report by Xinhua revealed that there are already about 2 million consumers in the Mainland who choose to go to Hong Kong to inject Gardasil 9, a cervical cancer vaccine developed by Merck Pharmaceuticals.

The cost of the vaccine has more than tripled to HK$8,000 (about $1,000) and complaints have flooded the city’s consumer protection agency. The huge market demand has also spawned the industrial chain of :vaccination agencies” arranging trips to Hong Kong for women seeking the vaccine.

In some cases, clinics are failing to follow the prescribed schedule of shots. According to the optimal injection period recommended by Merck, the second injection needle has to be inoculated at least two months after the first injection After inoculation, the third needle can be inoculated after at least four months. In total, the three-injection vaccine needs to be inoculated within six months to one year to ensure maximum effectiveness.

However, due to low supply, some clinics are administering the 2nd injection over 8 months after the first injection, leading to an inoculation period of over 11 months.

Statistics show that over 2,000 people have not been vaccinated as scheduled, many of whom are women about to inject a second or third needle.

As a result, Hong Kong’s Consumer Council has received over 400 vaccine-related claims in the first four and a half months of the year, compared with 478 for all of 2017.

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