Thursday, October 15

More swine flu economics

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the Hamilton health authority's proposal of how to figure out who gets scare flu vaccines in the event of a pandemic. Now, the Canadian Olympic Committee's chief medical officer is suggesting that Olympic athletes get first dibs on flu vaccines in the event of a pandemic (hat tip to ECalgary). He notes athletes are a high-risk group and that Canadians would be sad if their Olympic hockey team caught swine flu.

Personally, I'm not convinced his argument that the positive externalities for Olympians getting vaccinated is that strong. I tend to agree with the Hamilton health authority that emergency workers should get dibs over athletes. But I'm not convinced the health authority's solution is the right one.

Why not hold a lottery for flu vaccines, and then allow people to trade or sell their vaccines as they wish? It ensures the rules are equal for everyone, and trading will allow for people who don't put a high value on the vaccine to transfer it to someone who does.