Social Influence on Individuals’ Vaccination Decision - A theoretical Approach

Fayrouz Fliou (University of Turin)

Abstract

Infectious diseases historically caused considerable losses to human societies, and they continue to do so today. Scientific developments allowed for individuals to get immunized from contracting vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, and the novelty is considered one of the greatest public health achievements of the last century. Due to COVID- 19 global health crisis, societies have witnessed an unprecedented disruption of the social and economic environment and experienced a new establishment of the habitat in which people interact. The actions made by governments and societal reactions raised concerns over the management of the ongoing crisis, and a general interest rose on the underlying intentions and behaviors to understand the developments of the State and populations responses. In the past few decades, research on vaccination behavior has been focused on a variety of factors, and the reasons for vaccination and most particularly COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy remain complex.
To address this issue, this paper presents a theoretical framework of the vaccination decision making process, taking into consideration the individual’s perceived cost/benefit analysis, and social influences of their gourp of membership. Based on various policies utilized to encourage vaccination against COVID- 19, we look into the impact of those interventions on the defined framework of the decision making process.
The results show that understanding the perception of individuals on different components of their utility is key to implementing an effective policy, the process of imitation is impactful as well, and can create a shift from the cost minimizing decision. Conveying information sustainably around the share of the immune population and efficiency of the vaccine, can orientate individuals to re-examine their perceptions, and hinder free-riders from observing the opportunity to exploit herd immunization. Communicating on the length of the application of an intervention, and determining the appropriate fines on forged documents, can aid individuals in updating their believes and dissuading any potential divergence from the aims of the public regulator.

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