Attractive Flu Shot - A Behavioral Approach to Increasing Influenza Vaccination Uptake Rates


Background. We suggest and examine a behavioral approach to increasing seasonal influenza vaccine uptake. Our idea combines behavioral effects generated by a dominated option, together with more traditional tools, such as providing information and recommendations. Methods. Making use of the seasonal nature of the flu, our treatments present participants with 2 options to receive the shot - early in the season, which is recommended and hence “attractive”, or later. Three additional layers are examined- 1) mentioning that the vaccine is more likely to run out of stock late in the season, 2) the early shot is free while the late one costs a fee, and 3) the early shot carries a monetary benefit. We compare vaccination intentions in these treatments to those of a control group who were invited to receive the shot regardless of timing. Results. Using a sample of the Israeli adult population (n = 3271), we found positive effects of all treatments on vaccination intentions, and these effects were significant for 3 of the 4 treatments. In addition, the vast majority of those who are willing to vaccinate intend to get the early shot. Conclusions. Introducing 2 options to get vaccinated against influenza (early or late) positively affects intentions to receive the flu shot. In addition, this approach nudges participants to take the shot in early winter, a timing that has been shown to be more cost-effective.