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Learning to trust flu shots: quasi-experimental evidence on the role of learning in influenza vaccination decisions from the 2009 influenza A/H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic

J. Maurer and Katherine Harris

Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers from HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: This paper studies consumer learning in influenza vaccination decisions, i.e., potential causal effects of past experiences of being vaccinated on current use of influenza vaccine. Existing structural models of demand usually identify consumer learning parametrically based on functional form assumptions within dynamic forward-looking Bayesian demand models. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to explore the potential role of consumer learning in pharmaceutical demand within a reduced form instrumental variable framework. The emergence of a new virus strain (influenza A H1N1/09) during the 2009 influenza pandemic resulted in the use of two different influenza vaccines each recommended for distinct population subgroups. We used these exogenous inputs to vaccination decisions to construct instrumental variables for the effect of past influenza vaccination experiences on the demand model for pandemic vaccine. We find large causal effects of seasonal vaccination on pandemic vaccination with changes in perceived vaccination safety being an important pathway. Our results suggest aimportant role of learning in vaccination decisions. Our findings further highlight that expanding uptake of seasonal vaccination is an important component of pandemic preparedness.

Keywords: pharmaceutical demand; influenza vaccination; consumer learning; preventive care use; pandemic preparedness; instrumental variable estimation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 I11 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-hea
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