Shusaku Sasaki, Tomoya Saito, Fumio Ohtake, 13 December 2021

Vaccination promotion is crucial to ending the Covid-19 pandemic. This column reports on an experiment in Japan examining whether people altered their vaccination intentions based on information about how their decision could affect vaccine uptake by others. Hearing that getting vaccinated could encourage uptake by others around them increased the proportion of older adults who would receive the vaccine if offered for free, while hearing that not getting vaccinated may discourage uptake by others strengthened the intention to get vaccinated among older adults who had already indicated their willingness to be vaccinated. Finally, hearing how likely others of a similar age were to get vaccinated also strengthened existing intentions – whether pro- or anti-vaccination. The ‘nudges’ did not appear to have an effect on younger adults. 

Tom Y. Chang, Mireille Jacobson, Manisha Shah, Rajiv Pramanik, Samir B. Shah, 08 December 2021

In the race to protect health and economies from COVID-19, governments must convince vaccine-hesitant populations to get jabbed. This column reports on a study in which unvaccinated members of a Medicaid-managed healthcare plan in the US were offered either financial incentives, different public health messages, or a simple vaccination appointment scheduler. None of the schemes increased overall vaccination rates in this vaccine-hesitant population. Improving take-up may likely require stronger policy levers, from employer rules to government mandates.

Pol Campos-Mercade, Armando N. Meier, Florian Schneider, Stephan Meier, Devin Pope, Erik Wengström, 19 November 2021

To increase Covid-19 vaccination uptake, many governments have used, or are considering using, monetary incentives. This column uses an experiment conducted in Sweden to show that a modest incentive of €20 can increase vaccination rates substantially. Furthermore, incentives appear to help increase vaccination uptake in any group, including those socioeconomic groups that are less likely to get vaccinated. However, behavioural nudges, such as providing information or highlighting the social impact of vaccination, do not lead to a statistically significant increase in vaccination rates. 

Mathias Dewatripont, 16 November 2021

Is vaccination a choice or a responsibility? Through 2021, policymakers across Europe have used vaccine passports to keep others safe and counter vaccine hesitancy. Mathias Dewatripont discusses the mixed evidence for their effectiveness with Tim Phillips.

Read more about the research discussed in this interview:

Mathias Dewatripont, Vaccination strategies in the midst of an epidemic, CEPR Policy Insight No 110

Joan Costa-i-Font, 29 June 2021

Covid-19 vaccines exert large positive spillover effects beyond their protective effects for individuals, and thus their value far exceeds their costs. But these benefits are only realised if enough people receive both doses, so policymakers need to ensure appropriate incentives are in place to mitigate vaccine hesitancy. This column explores the potential of different incentives, arguing that creating a narrative of social esteem around being vaccinated may be the most effective way to ensure widespread uptake.

Geraldine Blanchard-Rohner, Bruno Caprettini, Dominic Rohner, Hans-Joachim Voth, 01 June 2021

As COVID-19 vaccination programmes accelerate across the industrialised world, vaccination hesitancy is rapidly emerging as a key challenge. This column explores the relationship between pre-pandemic intensive care unit capacity and attitudes towards the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK. Despite widespread pre-pandemic scepticism about vaccines in general, willingness to become vaccinated against COVID-19 overall was strikingly high, even amongst those who rejected vaccines before the pandemic. The results point to a surprising synergy: where the emergency care systems of public healthcare providers were less strained during the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic, vaccination hesitancy is systematically less today. 

Anita Shet, Baldeep K. Dhaliwal, David Bloom, 08 January 2021

Despite the excitement and hopeful anticipation among the general public, the level of mistrust surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines is deeply concerning. This column argues that a ‘bottom-up’ approach to administering the vaccines – where the community is a resource and an active partner, not just a passive recipient of services – is critical for rebuilding trust and addressing inequities. It is also important to communicate that the vaccination effort is not just about saving lives, but also about improving livelihoods.

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Barry Eichengreen, Orkun Saka, 16 November 2020

Last week brought welcome news about the apparent effectiveness of a potential Covid-19 vaccine. While the challenges of manufacturing and distributing the vaccine lie ahead, this column argues that the most difficult challenge may actually be getting people to take it. A September survey of more than 10,000 Americans showed that only a slim majority of adult respondents would definitely or probably get a vaccine to prevent Covid-19, were it available today. A 2018 study shows that vaccine scepticism is even greater in a number of other countries. Hope lies in the possibility of a more consistent and effective public policy response, in which governments’ non-pharmaceutical interventions produce positive results, in turn fostering confidence in the safety and efficacy of any vaccine they endorse and distribute. 

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