10 women involved in scuffle at clinic over HPV vaccine shortage

Screengrab via Apple Daily video.

Two people were sent to hospital yesterday after a scuffle broke out at a private medical clinic when a group of mainland women seeking a cervical cancer vaccine were turned away because of a shortage.

Police had to be called in to break up the brawl at the Ocean Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui after ten mainland women became angry and tried to force their way inside the clinic upon being told they could not receive the next round of inoculations for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

A male security guard and a female staff member were taken to hospital with minor injuries, Apple Daily reported.

According to the newspaper, the women had received the first of three rounds of injections in October and were at the clinic yesterday to receive the next round, only to be told by clinic staff that they were out of the vaccine.

In an Apple Daily video report of the scuffle, someone can be seen trying to close the door of the clinic, while a woman can be heard yelling “that hurts” and “save me.”

Speaking to the newspaper, a woman surnamed Li —  who was among the group refused the shots  — said that the clinic had posted on May 14 that, due to the vaccine shortage, they could not accept appointments after June, but would still accept appointments in May.

She added that the situation had left her angry because all three injections for the HPV vaccine need to be done within one year, and the second injection needs to be taken within six months after having the first.

The scuffles come amid a worldwide shortage of the HPV vaccine Gardasil 9, which is made by US drug company Merck & Co. The company is known as MSD outside the US and Canada.

According to The SCMP, Merck issued a notice in Hong Kong at the end of April warning of the vaccine shortages.

Later that month, the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong announced that the vaccine would only be provided to Hong Kong residents. According to HKFP, this was due to limited resources and rising demand.

According to the website Sixth Tone, a lot of mainland medical tourists travel to Hong Kong to get the HPV vaccinations, the cost of which used to be around HK$4,000 (US$510) in 2017 to HK$7,500 (US$956) today.

News of the vaccine shortage angered many mainland women threatening legal action against these private clinics after they were told they could not complete the full course of vaccines, SCMP reported.

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