• Last updated: Fri, Nov 3, 2023Status: Ongoing
  • Svenja Miltner, and Jonatan Riberth

Medical scandals and vaccine hesitancy

In this project we consider the effects on vaccine hesitancy and health care utilization from an unusual medical scandal. Following the 2009–2010 swine flu pandemic, Sweden adopted a mass vaccination campaign where 60% of the Swedish population was vaccinated against the Swine flu. A number of individuals developed narcolepsy, a severe, incurable neurological disease, from the swine flu vaccine. We use individual level data on Covid and swine flu vaccinations to measure vaccine hesitancy during the Covid-19 pandemic among the affected individuals.

We contribute to a literature on the demand for healthcare and in particular the effects on demand from perceived medical scandals. Previous research have found large and lasting impacts on the take-up of vaccines and pharmaceuticals from such scandals (Martinez-Bravo and Stegmann (2021); Alsan and Wanamaker (2018); Lowes and Montero (2021); Archibong and Annan (2021)).

We add to this literature by considering a contemporary health policy failure for which the effects bear relevance for future health campaigns. We will consider both directly affected individuals, as well as indirectly affected individuals such as family members and colleagues. Our detailed data will allow us to discern between different mechanisms through which changes in vaccine hesitancy takes place as well as address how the scandal may have impacted overall Covid-19 vaccination rates.

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