The economics of H1N1 and influenza in general have been things that I have commented on multiple times. Today on the Marc Steiner show, I heard a physician/vaccination researcher being interviewed who made a really good comment. The H1N1 infection does seem to be any worse for complications than the general flu--in other words of every 10000 people who are infected the same number will have cases that are bad enough to land them in the hospital and/or die. The key is that more people are getting the flu (the guest described the "attack rate" as four times higher) because no one under age 50 has been exposed to anything like this version of the flu virus before.
How does this relate to economics? Well, consider someone who had not gotten an influenza vaccination in past years. If this person recognizes that hospital beds are likely to be more crowded with H1N1 cases, the person might be more likely to get a seasonal influenza vaccination. In addition, an otherwise healthy young to early middle age adult might reach the conclusion that the risk of H1N1 is sufficiently high to warrant getting a vaccination even though he or she had not in the past. Again, this is the overall risk of complications and death which is made up of the two parts and the one part (getting influenza) has changed considerably.
In summary, a lot more people will probably get flu shots this year. Even me. Is it because of public health officials' exhortations? Perhaps in part. But it is also a simple economic reaction to a change in risks.
Lemon Zest, Turkish Apricot Scones
3 years ago