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Vaccine allocation to blue-collar workers

L\'aszl\'o Czaller, Gerg\H{o} T\'oth and Balázs Lengyel

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Abstract: Vaccination may be the solution to the pandemic-induced health crisis, but the allocation of vaccines is a complex task in which economic and social considerations can be important. The central problem is to use the limited number of vaccines in a country to reduce the risk of infection and mitigate economic uncertainty at the same time. In this paper, we propose a simple economic model for vaccine allocation across two types of workers: white-collars can work from home; while blue-collars must work on site. These worker types are complementary to each other, thus a negative shock to the supply of either one decreases the demand for the other that leads to unemployment. Using parameters of blue and white-collar labor supply, their infection risks, productivity losses at home office during lock-down, and available vaccines, we express the optimal share of vaccines allocated to blue-collars. The model points to the dominance of blue-collar vaccination, especially during waves when their relative infection risks increase and when the number of available vaccines is limited. Taking labor supply data from 28 European countries, we quantify blue-collar vaccine allocation that minimizes unemployment across levels of blue- and white-collar infection risks. The model favours blue-collar vaccination identically across European countries in case of vaccine scarcity. As more vaccines become available, economies that host large-shares of employees in home-office shall increasingly immunize them in case blue-collar infection risks can be kept down. Our results highlight that vaccination plans should include workers and rank them by type of occupation. We propose that prioritizing blue-collar workers during infection waves and early vaccination can also favour economy besides helping the most vulnerable who can transmit more infection.

Date: 2021-04
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