How to Get the Best Vaccine Plan When Living in China?

Expat parents in China with kids to look after have to make some tough medical choices. Amid the Chinese national vaccine scheme that covers only the bare minimum, how can you make sure that your kids are properly protected with all the vaccines you would have at home?

The major difference between the Chinese basic immunization plan and those of Australia, the UK, and US is that the three latter ones are much wider in scope. In comparison, Chinese kids lack about eight jabs such as those against rotavirus, HPV, pneumococcal, as well as many strains of meningococcal disease, if their parents are not willing to fork over hundreds of US dollars to cover the extra costs.

Chinese kids still have to visit their doctors relatively often because the handy combinations, such as British ‘six-in-one’ kit against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis B and others, are not available in China.

Moreover, China has challenges that the Western developed countries do not and have removed these vaccinations from their national schemes, such as tuberculosis. The country has an estimated 1 million new cases of TB each year, which is more than any country except India, according to the WHO. Since a polio outbreak was reported in Xinjiang province in 2011, the country has also stepped up its efforts in getting everyone vaccinated in the western region.

Top Jabs for Expat Kids

International families living in China, as well as Chinese families, may benefit from adding six to seven types of inoculations to their medical plans in order to reach the level of protection akin to the US, UK and Australia. These are listed in the graph below.

How the US, UK, AUS Exceed China’s Basic List

The good thing is that most of the internationally recommended vaccines are available in China, unfortunately meningococcal B vaccination is still unavailable. Parents may find these drugs from local and international hospitals at a cost from a few US dollars to around two hundred per each dose depending on the vaccination.

Perks of the Chinese System

Despite other shortcomings, the Chinese compulsory plan excels in a couple of categories in comparison to the three equivalents in Australia, the US and UK.

What China Does Better

China offers protection against hepatitis A, as well as Japanese encephalitis, to all its kids. If having a child with a Chinese passport, getting these for free is a bit of a life hack.

Finally, we have compiled a comparison of the vaccination schedules of China, Australia, UK and US.

General Protection in All Four Countries

Reasons for Frugality in the Chinese System

The reason why the Chinese system is different from the three Anglo-sphere equivalents is partly due to regional differences, and in part, financial causes.

Factors such as the efficacy of a vaccine, the nation’s financial situation, and the cost and effect ratio must be considered when expanding the national immunization program, China Daily reported in 2014 Yu Wenzhou, a senior specialist of the scheme under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as saying.

In the meantime, China has risen to become a “world-leader in vaccine delivery,” Dr Schwartländer said on the WHO website. However, few of those are offered for free back home.

The soaring costs of getting protected have made Chinese citizens resourceful. For example, before the drug administration approved the country’s first vaccine against HPV, medical tourists headed to Hong Kong to pay hundreds of US dollars for jabs against the most common sexually transmitted infection, which causes cervical cancer among women.

Since HPV vaccines got the green light to hit Chinese hospitals in May, locals and expats may find their shots at a price of CNY800 (USD130) each out of three doses. Parents shouldn’t wait for immunization plan extensions in China so you may want to talk with your insurance broker to see how to get a cost-efficient package of all the necessary jabs in order to stay safe.