The Korea Herald


Seoul braces for Tylenol shortage as vaccine rollout gathers speed

By Bae Hyunjung

Published : June 2, 2021 - 14:53

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

As the COVID-19 vaccination campaign gathers speed in South Korea, branded Tylenol is running short as people rushed to secure the painkiller to prepare for potential side effects of the jabs, industry data showed Wednesday.

Worried about a serious supply shortage similar to those of masks and hand sanitizers in the early stage of the pandemic, experts set out to encourage people to go for alternative medicines with the same key ingredient and function.

The top three convenience store chains here all saw their sales of Tylenol climb drastically in May, especially during the last few days when the country opened the reservation system for residual doses of vaccines from no-shows.

In the case of CU, the Tylenol sales from May 27 to 31 marked a 125.5 percent increase from the same period last year. Seven Eleven followed with a 99.6 percent rise on-year during the same period.

GS25, though it did not provide the data for the corresponding period, saw its monthly sales for the drug rise 38.8 percent on-year.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, the head of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, had said earlier in March that it was “okay to take fever reducers such as Tylenol” in case of a post-vaccination fever, though she added that the use should be minimized as it might weaken the immune system.

In later press briefings, the quarantine office used the term “acetaminophen” which is the active ingredient in Tylenol, without mentioning specific product names.

“There are a number of fever reducing painkiller drugs in the domestic market, all with the same effect,” the agency said.

The Korean Pharmaceutical Association also issued a statement and carried out a public campaign to that effect.

In posters distributed in drugstores across the nation, the KPA said “Don’t worry about the sellout (of Tylenol). There are about 70 other KDCA-certified acetaminophen medicines. Please consult your pharmacist!”

People may access the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s information platform ( to find the name and manufacturer of the alternative products available on the market.

By Bae Hyun-jung (