Cost of HPV vaccination in Turkey approaches minimum wage

The cost of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in Turkey will approach the minimum wage with the expected price increase next week, despite the Health Minister’s promise to offer the cancer-preventing vaccine for free. 

Duvar English 

The anticipated 25 percent price increase next week will bring the total cost of the three doses of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to 9,600 Turkish liras ($330), which is just below the minimum wage of 11,402 liras ($390).

The price increase comes a year after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca promised to include the vaccine in the national vaccination program and offer it free of charge, according to reporting by the daily BirGün.

Pharmacist Cem Kılınç stated that the vaccine was 700 liras back when the campaign for free HPV vaccines began. Now, the price increased more than four-fold, and a single shot costs 3,200 liras (110 dollars).

Kılınç noted that January is cervical cancer awareness month, and the Health Ministry could easily pass legislation to include the HPV vaccine in the national vaccination program by January. 

Kılınç stated the move would be lucrative for the government, as it would prevent cancer treatment costs in the future. 

“The hospital owned by our Health Minister administers the vaccine for profit, whereas us pharmacists call for free vaccination,” complained Kılınç.

The free HPV vaccine advocates request nationwide vaccination of women and men aged 9-14 as well as catch-up doses for anyone who would benefit from the vaccine. 

“We want our vaccines,” said lawyer Nilda Baltalı, board member of the Children and Women First Foundation and reminded of the legal route people can use to receive reimbursement for the cost of their HPV vaccinations. 

“Not administering a vaccine that has been found almost 100 percent effective in preventing cervical cancer causes net public harm and psychological as well as social damages to women.”

An Ankara court back in March ruled that the Turkish Social Security Institution (SGK) should reimburse a woman for her HPV vaccination, setting the precedent for many other women who have had to pay a hefty fee for the jab.