Vaccine Shortage

by Russ Roberts on October 26, 2009

in Health

In response to this podcast I did with Mike Munger, listener Milli Pritchett writes:

I am a pregnant woman in Salt Lake City, Utah. This weekend our health department had a mass H1N1 flu shot clinic, with 7,000 shots to give out, in 4 clinics. It started at 7am. I knew my chances were pretty small when I saw the night before people were already lined up. When I got there at 7am, I wasn’t hopeful, seeing what looked like 4,000 people lined up. I went and stood at the back of the line and started to wait. After about twenty minutes one of the Health department people came up to our group and said there was no point in waiting as they would run out of the vaccine about 1,000 people ahead of me. Some people started arguing with the guy, I just left. (I later on learned that 45,000 people lined up outside one of the clinics).
One of the main concerns and problems in this to me was that it was free. It seems to me that had they charged at least 20 dollars a person, half those people maybe would not have even been there. There are people that aren’t in the high risk groups getting the shots, just because they are free. I thought about it, and I would have paid and still would pay about 200 dollars for the shot. Maybe, next time I will think ahead and offer that amount to someone in line ahead of me…

My response:

Milli,

I checked into your story and found this video.

Also spoke with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. Pregnant women were one of five groups that were supposed to get priority and receive the vaccine on Saturday:

* Pregnant women
* Those who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
* Health care and emergency services personnel with direct patient contact,
* People between the ages of 6 months and 24 years,
* People ages 25 through 64 years with chronic health disorders such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, chronic cardiovascular disease and those with compromised immune systems.

People who lined up had to fill out a form vouching for their status in these groups. But it was on the “honor system.” No one had to prove they were pregnant or asthmatic or worked with infants.

So either there were too many priority people or too many people who claimed priority.

Maybe, just maybe, it would have been better to charge something instead of giving it away.

BTW, it was a CDC program administered locally.

We’ve made the same mistake of giving it away, before.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

comments

81 comments    Share Share    Print    Email

{ 81 comments }

Anonymous October 26, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Seems to me like there has to be additional government meddling involved here. Does the government restrict the producers of flu vaccines and/or the prices charged? I’d gladly pay to get the H1N1 vaccine if that were a possibility.

Anonymous October 26, 2009 at 10:38 pm

I do believe that there are some form of price controls in this arena.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 1:27 am

Of course there are price controls. Most people are getting it for free(which means we pay for it with our tax dollars). So if the government is buying them you bet there are price controls. How about for every dose of the vaccine the drug companies sells to the government at the fixed price, they get to sell one at whatever price they feel like. It might get them to produce more than they are now.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm

The government is buying 250 million doses from private manufacturers for a price that the manufacturer is willing to take for it. Beyond the 250 million, there are no restrictions on the manufacturers selling it elsewhere. Now – might the manufacturer sell to the government for lower than it will sell elsewhere? Quite likely, yes. When I buy Ketchup from Costco I get it for cheaper than I get it at Giant, too. That’s called market power, not price controls. If you buy in bulk you often get a better deal.Viruses are a classic negative externality. The cost of me getting sick is far greater than the costs that I alone bear, because I put others at risk of getting sick.

mcwop October 27, 2009 at 1:55 pm

You need to provide a source for that 250 million, becuase at that number there should not be any shortage in the US. The numbers I have seen are far less (of vaccine actually produced and shipped):
http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2009/09/21/daily19.html

The manufacturing capacity is 200 million+.

I am looking to get the shot, and am willing to pay (I take immuno suppressants so am high risk). But, I cannot find a supply anywhere right now. Something is broken, may be the market or it could be government interference, it could be both. It appears that it is manufacturing capacity, which is the root cause.

Some manufacturers are having problems, like Novartis, and Sanofi. Both initially saw a low yield from the seed strain of virus used to grow the vaccine, which has been constraining supply. Though they are getting production ramped up.

http://diseases-viruses.suite101.com/article.cfm/swine_flu_vaccine_shortages_widespread

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/swine-flu-h1n1-flu-vaccine-shortage-panic/story?id=8915650

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm

This is just an incredibly stupid argument on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin. That governments do not work like normal market actors is of course one place to start. Second is the issue of whether what the government demands as a price is a normal price that the market would come to; I think anyone with an understanding of the history of government purchasing realizes that this is very unlikely.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Price controls? Do you have links? My understanding is that the government negotiates with the vaccine producers. Their market power allows them to get lower prices, but that wouldn’t be any different from what we could expect Blue Cross Blue Shield to get if they placed an order for 250 million vaccinations. And ultimately a manufacturer doesn’t have to sell to them if they don’t want to. There are obviously regulations around getting a drug approved – but I hadn’t heard anything about price controls before. I’m interested in hearing where you saw this.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 1:54 pm

No, the government does not negotiate; it sets a price which it will pay for the product. It is not surprising that when the U.S. instituted this policy in I believe the 1990s that the number of vaccine makers went south like a duck in winter.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Right – monopsonists are price setters. But the number of vaccine makers would have gone south if BCBS placed an order for 250 million at X price and welcomed all takers too. But you were suggesting something entirely different – price controls. Do you have any evidence that vaccine producers are restricted from selling to others at a different price? All I’m saying is that I had never heard that before.

Anonymous October 26, 2009 at 10:50 pm

A couple thoughts:

First, it’s worth noting that besides the restricted price to the end recipient, there are price controls effectively imposed on the manufacturers of vaccines, as well as excessive risk-aversion on the part of the FDA. See this policy brief from NCPA (PDF) or this op-ed from Sally Pipes on the subject.

Second – although I didn’t expect the CBS crew in Russ’s linked video to ask questions about the role the price system plays in this problem, it’s still disappointing. I really think that someone should suggest this to John Stossel, but I don’t know where to contact him since he’s gone from ABC to Fox and his previous blog link is now redirecting to the “20-20″ home page.

Anonymous October 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm

This is great. Free health care that no one can get. Reminds me of the Yogi Berra quote, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

Ἐγκώμιον Δημαγωγο October 26, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Welcome to the Hotel Utah, sir. We are programed to check you in I believe, but you can never decide to leave. We have saved for you our most expensive banquette room. Come this way please.


Antoine, you are late. If you weren’t the most diabolically disgusting lobbyist this side of the tracks, I would now summarily fire you then black-ball you in every country listed inside your passport.


Which one?


Howdy folks, I’m your partly dressed waitress for tonight. Would you like to order now?


Excuse me, but I am short of cash since my last bribery. This is all I have for tip.


$4,000 — Thanks!


We will order later. What’s up Michelle?


Drug company is short of profits just before months end and needs window dressing of balance sheet. They will, however, be able to sell more vaccine for beaver-grippe if only they can insure that you and I can make grippe spread faster.


We will have the drug company repackage purified sugar water as being vaccine. I will advertise on media that free vaccine will be available if springers will come and stand in line long enough to spread beaver-flu among themselves. With increase in chain reaction velocity from the stand-around-party our client’s catarrh-vaccine popularity will drive the price up on syringes, needles and vaccine being hawked by our client.


You now deserve an extra martini, a modicum of this Acapulco Gold, and something that I am disallowed to mention on a family oriented blog . Shhh! Here comes the waitress.

BoscoH October 26, 2009 at 11:57 pm

It seems that our government is trying to emulate the release of a new iPhone.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 12:27 am

Milli: does the amount you are willing to pay change after reading Does the Vaccine Matter? in the Atlantic?

Anonymous November 1, 2009 at 3:09 am

I finally read the article and regularly I really wouldn’t worry so much about the flu. Mostly, I was concerned about getting any form of the flu because I am pregnant. I got my regular flu shot, and I would worry less but I also work helping customers all day in a sales type job. The other reason I would like to get it is that my doctor told me to.
All in all, reading the article was interesting and does raise questions about the vaccine, but I am trying to not take such risks with my health right now. Basically, I don’t want to take the chance of getting very ill and dying.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 1:12 am

I’m completely fine with selling vaccines (in fact, my understanding is most places are, right? I read some reports about people getting upset about it because they expected it to be free). However, this is also one instance where it could make sense to refuse to give or sell it to certain people until they went through the line and made sure they got it to all the pregnant women, children, etc. first. The market is a good rationer – but the market is still no guarantee that it will get to where it is needed most (last I checked willingness and ability to pay aren’t particularly well correlated with vulnerability to catching or dying from the flu).

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 2:17 am

Your vulnerability to dying from the flu wouldn’t change your willingness to buy the vaccine? Really?

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 10:05 am

Of course it will change your willingness to buy.

Can we quit it with these absolutist responses? When I write “aren’t particularly well correlated” I don’t mean “won’t change”, I actually mean “aren’t particularly well correlated”. And the flip side of that is that there are people who are very willing to pay that don’t need it. And then there’s ability to pay which may very well have a negative correlation wtih people who need it most.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 11:06 am

Quote from danielkuehn: “And the flip side of that is that there are people who are very willing to pay that don’t need it.”

Who decides who needs it? Are you saying that certain people are immune?

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 11:15 am

What would lead you to think I’m saying certain people are immune? We already have an understanding of who is most vulnerable to the flu. The market will optimize the distribution with respect to who wants the vaccine the most. As txslr points out, that’s going to have some relationship with who needs it the most.

But presumably there are going to be others who need it even more but cannot pay for it – say a single mother with small children who works with other small children at a day care center. She may be willing to pay less than the $200 that the woman who wrote this letter is willing to pay, by virtue of the relative size of her paycheck – but that doesn’t mean she needs it less and it doesn’t even mean she wants it less.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I’ll quit the absolutist responses as soon as you start making more sense. Asserting that the probability of contracting the flu and/or dying from the flu is not well correlated with willingness to buy the vaccine is hugely counter-intuitive. And I was not talking about a random change in your willingness to buy the vaccine, either. I was talking about a significant positive correlation between the perceived probability of contracting or dying from the flu and the willingness to buy the vaccine. Your defense is that “aren’t particularly well correlated” is too vague to have any substantive meaning and is thereby immune from criticism. Not a strong argument. Maybe there is evidence that your assertion is true – you indicate that you’ve checked, so maybe you can share your data?

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 10:26 am

Well there is no reason to think that ability to pay is positively correlated with vulnerability to the flu. And I agree with you and have never disagreed with you that being vulnerable will make you more likely to be willing to pay. But a lot of other people aren’t particularly vulnerable but are just scared and they’re willing to pay too. I’m not sure what else to say! And I’m not sure how you concluded that I said it wasn’t correlated with all. I never said such a thing. It’s not vague. “Not well correlated” doesn’t mean “not correlated” and it doesn’t mean “highly correlated”. Don’t blame your misreading on me being vague.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 2:53 am

Since the price mechanism has been so muted in this instance any innovation that would lead to an alleviation of the problem has been squelched. Imagine if we treated televisions or AC units this way. They’d be of the same quality and availability as was the case in the 1950s.

Michael Fernwood October 27, 2009 at 1:18 am

Wow, nothing about the opportunity costs of missed work, forgone consumer spending or just sleepy time.

Oh, and how many people most likley contracted H1N1 (who otherwise would not have)just standing in line with the their fellow Salk Lake Citizens

Dan Kennedy October 27, 2009 at 1:57 am

Why isn’t the media calling the lack of H1N1 vaccine Obama’s Katrina? After all his team had longer to prepare for H1N1 than Bush’s had to prepare for the hurricane.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 2:14 am

Perhaps they are warning us that they are going to start reporting wild rumors as facts?

“Pregnant women in line for vaccine eaten by sharks!”
“Hospital freezers filled with bodies of people who died waiting for vaccine!”
“Planes delivering vaccine shot at by armed gangs!”

Gil October 27, 2009 at 6:01 am

Maybe due to the fact many people don’t believe in vaccination and think vaccines actually poison the body (e.g. some reckon certain vaccines cause autism).

Eric H October 27, 2009 at 2:12 am

Insane. Utterly insane in the membrane.

I like how one answer to shortages was to make getting the vaccines “more convenient” by giving people vaccines in their cars. In other words, they more efficiently created a longer line!

Is it too uncharitable of me to consider people who mouth platitudes like “we’ve got to pull together and take care of each other” cowards? It would take a hero to stand up and publicly proclaim that vaccines should be sold.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 9:40 am

The government failed to produce the number of promised vaccinations for H1N1. I am shocked, shocked at lack of competence. :’)

If the big boys and girls cannot handle something as targeted as H1N1 vaccinations how in the world will they handle the enormous task of delivering medical care services?

JohnK October 27, 2009 at 12:17 pm

All that was was a preview of what our entire medical system will be like once our government takes control.

Ain’t it great?

Chris October 27, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Why didn’t she just go to the head of the line and offer $200 to the first person who would let her take his spot?

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Anyway, the whole vaccine debacle is a great example of government failure. Government controls the price, controls who may sell and distribute these products, it controls the advertising and education regarding this product, etc., and yet every flue season we have one clusterfuck after another regarding the distribution of the flu vaccine.

piefarmer October 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

A ridiculous occurence which turns sad when one considers the absolute ineffectiveness of most vaccines. Maybe it is appropriate that the vaccines are free, because they have zero value.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Also there must be some government restriction limiting who can produce the vaccine (or indirectly limiting the producers via price controls). Otherwise I’d expect to see dozens of new vaccine providers popping up all over the place to meet this demand.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 3:31 pm

First, your link only reports the production capacity of a single company as being 200 million, not the entire market.

I’m busy right now, but I’ll find the source again – I saw it a couple places. But obviously an order placed in the spring of ’09 is not the same thing as an order produced by the fall of ’09 – and I have no idea what the time frame for that is. Maybe it’s 250 million through the spring of ’10.

RE: “But, I cannot find a supply anywhere right now. Something is broken, may be the market or it could be government interference, it could be both.”

Now what does this really mean though? Why does it mean something is broken? Could it mean that you just haven’t offered enough to convince someone to produce one for you? I’m not sure why the fact that you aren’t able to purchase one means that the government or the market is broken (although obviously it may mean that).

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 10:12 am

Here’s one 250 million citation: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/26/AR2009102603487.html I saw it in most articles I pulled up – shouldn’t be too hard to find others.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 3:26 pm

See Mommsen’s point below about the lack of prices squelching innovation. A true market has an incredible tendency to create efficiencies and bring down costs. It’s happened to everything else, including TVs and air conditioners. Why assume that it wouldn’t work for vaccine production?

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Of course, if the vaccine were for sale the day care center that employs this pregant woman and other (possibly even non-pregnant) workers could purchase vaccines for everyone who comes into contact with children. That would be simply prudent, along with being a selling point for parents concerned about their children getting the flu. On the other hand, if the government says that pregnant women and health care workers get to move to the front of the line, that might leave the non-pregnant day care workers and their wards vulnerable.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 3:35 pm

The government offers to purchase the vaccines at a price. The vaccine manufacturers aren’t bound to produce and sell the vaccine, and choose to sell at that price. I’m not sure what’s so stupid about that.

What makes a government purchasing 250 million vaccinations any different from another entity purchasing 250 million vaccinations? You don’t think that any other entity would be able to exercise that sort of monopsony power too??? Of course it would.

mcwop October 27, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I stated 200 million PLUS as capacity. And it appears nowhere near that amount has been produced yet.

My choice of the word broken may be bad, but my point seems clear – there is no supply right now despite the demand. Usually if supply cannot meet demand, then something is wrong or broken. I also specifically pointed to the supply problem, which is manufacturing problems as the root cause right now.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 3:41 pm

See my point about how pricing it would be very good.

The point is, though, despite all the benefits that selling vaccines definitely provides, one benefit that is conspicuously absent is getting the vaccine to the people who need it most. Ability to pay is not correlated with vulnerability to the flu, and the costs that you experience from getting sick (which contribute to willingness to pay) don’t include all the costs you impose on other people when you get sick. There are benefits to the market – I challenge you to find where I’ve ever denied this – but there are limits to the market too. Markets never have responded well to viral epidemics.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Markets haven’t had a chance to respond to viral epidemics.

There are ways of getting the vaccine to the “most vulnerable” without crippling the market. For example, the government could allow free buying and selling of vaccines, and give a direct payment of the market price to high-risk people who are unable to afford it otherwise. That’s much more consistent with market principles than the status quo where only the select few get it at all.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 4:32 pm

The only thing it seems to me that is preventing a market from operating is the requirement of FDA approval.

What about 1918? Just throwing that out there – I’m not sure of the details, but that’s likely to be a situation where the market was able to respond to the epidemic. I think it’s precisely the failure of the market in past epidemics for eminently obvious and elementary reasons (the positive externalities associated with vaccination) that we even have government intervention today. And like I said, it’s not a form of intervention that destroys the market. All the government does is enter the market as a buyer.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm

The vaccine manufacturers aren’t bound to produce and sell the vaccine, and choose to sell at that price. I’m not sure what’s so stupid about that.

Since that price is below a normal market price fewer companies want to get into that game (indeed, the government has resorted to outright begging of late regarding this matter).

You don’t think that any other entity would be able to exercise that sort of monopsony power too?

Not and expect worthwhile results. See the government – in all of its wiseness – expects that it can get a below normal price and get the quantity it wants at the same time. No market actor can do that.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 5:12 pm

If the government states that X will be the price, whether it is buying it or not, that is a price control. The government specifically states that it will not let the price of these items fluctuate.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 5:24 pm

BTW, we see everything we would expect from price controls and rationing; long lines which are not simply one-day events being a primary example of such. There is also a black market in vaccines if the news reports are accurate.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 5:23 pm

1918 is an unfair comparison. The first modern flu vaccines were not created until the 1930s and not widely available until a couple of decades after that. Might as well blame the health care market for Mozart’s death from what may have been a staph infection.

I don’t know the mechanics of FDA approval. It just seems like there must be some other restriction on new entrants, otherwise there would be an explosion of firms rushing to produce a vaccine.

Anonymous October 27, 2009 at 6:35 pm

The big assumption you and I and the rest of us are all making is that if the vaccine were for sale, more of it would be produced given current levels of demand. I think that’s intuitively obvious, but supporters of the government priority scheme seem to assume that the supply is fixed, so we owe a duty to give it to the kids and pregnant women first.

My fiancee is a doctor at a major hospital. The hospital *ran out* of the regular flu vaccine, and she hasn’t received the H1N1 vaccine yet due to short supply. Government meddling doesn’t work.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 10:33 am

Sounds like a great idea to me. That’s exactly the sort of thing I’m getting at. Target recipients.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 10:14 am

Right – I wasn’t disagreeing with your point about the root cause of the supply problem. I just wasn’t aware that there was any problem with the market or the government and I was wondering what you meant by that.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 10:18 am

I know there aren’t great examples – but it’s just as fair as blaming the government now for not giving the market a chance. There are problems with markets alone getting vaccines to people who need them most because ability to pay just isn’t correlated with need of the vaccine, and because there are positive externalities inherent in the vaccine. Nobody is going to do a test-run and let the market handle one outbreak just for comparison sake. That would be sick. The comparisons are bad, but the argument is still good. And I have no problem with the voucher idea that you provided earlier – I just noticed that now. That sounds great to me.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 10:22 am

I don’t understand why we implicitly assume that – could you explain? And no one is saying end the market – the government is just deciding that it’s going to buy in the market too (just like it purchases in the market for office supplies or labor). The market is currently operating – there’s nothing preventing your fiance’s hospital from buying the vaccine. There is just a production problem right now – the government is having trouble getting their orders filled too. Vague references to “meddling” don’t explain the trouble your fiance is having.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Over a short enough period of time all supply is inelastic, but even with perfectly inelastic supply markets clear. That is, regardless of whether there is a market response over the relevant period of time, markets should be allowed to clear and vaccines should be allocated by that market according to the free decisions of sellers and purchasers.

This notion that the government can somehow allocate vaccines more efficiently or more justly than the market is simply silly. If it could do that why stop at vaccines? Why not cars, corn and sofas?

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Over a short enough period of time all supply is inelastic, but even with perfectly inelastic supply markets clear. That is, regardless of whether there is a market response over the relevant period of time, markets should be allowed to clear and vaccines should be allocated by that market according to the free decisions of sellers and purchasers.

This notion that the government can somehow allocate vaccines more efficiently or more justly than the market is simply silly. If it could do that why stop at vaccines? Why not cars, corn and sofas?

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 10:30 am

RE: “Since that price is below a normal market price fewer companies want to get into that game”Yes, and Wal-Mart’s monopsony power pushes prices “below a normal market price” and drives people out of the game too. So? I fail to see your point. RE: “See the government – in all of its wiseness – expects that it can get a below normal price and get the quantity it wants at the same time. No market actor can do that.”IF IT CAN’T GET THE AMOUNT IT WANTS IT WILL OFFER A HIGHER PRICE, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER MARKET ACTOR!!!

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 10:32 am

The long lines are only there because of manufacturing problems. Are you going to blame the problems producing the vaccine on the price the government agreed to as well? There are lines at doctors and hospitals not supplied by the government too.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:15 pm

No, they are their due to government price controls.

Ahh, doctors and hospitals are subject to a vast array of price and supply controls. Not remotely the best argument you could make.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:15 pm

No, they are their due to government price controls.

Ahh, doctors and hospitals are subject to a vast array of price and supply controls. Not remotely the best argument you could make.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm

What price controls mommsen1625? You keep referencing these price controls. What exactly are you talking about?

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm

What price controls mommsen1625? You keep referencing these price controls. What exactly are you talking about?

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm

The Vaccines for Children program is one such price control program.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm

The Vaccines for Children program is one such price control program.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm

In what way? The government still purchases vaccines on the market for VFC. I guess I’m just not understanding how you define “price control”. To me, a price control is like a minimum wage or rent control – where the government will not allow market activity to go on above or below a legislated price. That’s not what goes on in any of these vaccination programs. The government buys things in the market, sure. That doesn’t make it a price control. Anybody that places a 250 million vaccination order could get a similar price because they’re buying in bulk like that.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm

In what way? The government still purchases vaccines on the market for VFC. I guess I’m just not understanding how you define “price control”. To me, a price control is like a minimum wage or rent control – where the government will not allow market activity to go on above or below a legislated price. That’s not what goes on in any of these vaccination programs. The government buys things in the market, sure. That doesn’t make it a price control. Anybody that places a 250 million vaccination order could get a similar price because they’re buying in bulk like that.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm

When the government makes itself the near exclusive buyer and does not allow the price to float that looks like a price control to me. It certainly comes with all the attendant problems associated with price controls.

But let’s not get trapped by words; the long and short of the matter is this: the government has failed to adequately provide for vaccines by policies which have shrunk the number of vaccine manufacturers by roughly 90%. This is a classic example of a government failure.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 5:52 pm

My idea was to let the market decide who gets the vaccine rather than the government. That is, no targets.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 5:52 pm

My idea was to let the market decide who gets the vaccine rather than the government. That is, no targets.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Selling at a day care center targets people who would get a great deal of use out of it. I don’t recall saying anything about government in agreeing with you on this point.

I’m sure we have other disagreements on the role of government, but not that selling at a daycare center would be a bad idea.

The question is – why isn’t it being sold at the day care center? My place of employment (not a daycare center!) is selling the flu vaccine. Not all places of employment are. Why not? Could it be that ability to pay isn’t well correlated with need?

But insofar as it is being sold at daycare centers, I strongly agree that that’s good. I’m not sure why you think I’m saying that involves government.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Selling at a day care center targets people who would get a great deal of use out of it. I don’t recall saying anything about government in agreeing with you on this point.

I’m sure we have other disagreements on the role of government, but not that selling at a daycare center would be a bad idea.

The question is – why isn’t it being sold at the day care center? My place of employment (not a daycare center!) is selling the flu vaccine. Not all places of employment are. Why not? Could it be that ability to pay isn’t well correlated with need?

But insofar as it is being sold at daycare centers, I strongly agree that that’s good. I’m not sure why you think I’m saying that involves government.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:09 pm

My (perfectly reasonable) interpretation of “not well correlated” is that the derived correlation coefficient is not statistically different from zero. Your interpretation is that it is not clearly zero, and it is not something else called “highly correlated”, which is not defined, but which must be less than or equal to 1. So “not well correlated” to you means a correlation greater than 0 and less than 1 . It’s all so obvious now!

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:09 pm

My (perfectly reasonable) interpretation of “not well correlated” is that the derived correlation coefficient is not statistically different from zero. Your interpretation is that it is not clearly zero, and it is not something else called “highly correlated”, which is not defined, but which must be less than or equal to 1. So “not well correlated” to you means a correlation greater than 0 and less than 1 . It’s all so obvious now!

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:18 pm

I just drove to a local restaurant and ate a chicken sandwich. Was I “targeted” for consumption of that sandwich?

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:18 pm

I just drove to a local restaurant and ate a chicken sandwich. Was I “targeted” for consumption of that sandwich?

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Sorry. I made a mistake. “Not well correlated” means a correlation that is PROBABLY greater than 0 and less than some unspecified value that itself is less than 1. Now I’ve got it.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Sorry. I made a mistake. “Not well correlated” means a correlation that is PROBABLY greater than 0 and less than some unspecified value that itself is less than 1. Now I’ve got it.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I suppose it’s not unreasonable, but I’m not sure why you would just assume that I mean not statistically significant from zero. Even if we presuppose that all correlations are statistically significant from zero, the correlation itself can still vary. I’m not putting hard limits on what is “high” and what is “low”. I wasn’t even really speaking in such strict statistical terms – I was speaking more colloquially (although expressing it in statistical terms works too).

Let’s take a correlation of vulnerability to the flu and willingness to buy of 0.1, and let’s say it’s statistically significant. I would call that “not well correlated”. That doesn’t mean I’m saying that there is no relationship between the two. There is one. It’s just not a particularly important one.

I’m not sure why you dragged statistical significance into this. I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that all these correlations are significant – despite the fact that I wasn’t speaking so formally in the first place.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I suppose it’s not unreasonable, but I’m not sure why you would just assume that I mean not statistically significant from zero. Even if we presuppose that all correlations are statistically significant from zero, the correlation itself can still vary. I’m not putting hard limits on what is “high” and what is “low”. I wasn’t even really speaking in such strict statistical terms – I was speaking more colloquially (although expressing it in statistical terms works too).

Let’s take a correlation of vulnerability to the flu and willingness to buy of 0.1, and let’s say it’s statistically significant. I would call that “not well correlated”. That doesn’t mean I’m saying that there is no relationship between the two. There is one. It’s just not a particularly important one.

I’m not sure why you dragged statistical significance into this. I’m perfectly willing to stipulate that all these correlations are significant – despite the fact that I wasn’t speaking so formally in the first place.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm

You can bet the owner of the store targeted you, yes. You’re not going to see much bacon sold in Tel Aviv, and you won’t find a hamburger in Mumbai. The fact is you want to paint everyone that disagrees with you as an advocate of Big Government, but I’m sorry – that’s not inherent in what I say. I’m sure I do have a different view of the role of the state than you – certainly on this particular issue of vaccination. But that doesn’t change the fact that you were targeted, and it has nothing to do with the government. I’m glad you got a chicken sandwich and I’d be glad if daycare workers got vaccinations. My concern is with the question of why and when that doesn’t happen (because we know why it does happen when it does – Adam Smith and others figured that out hundreds of years ago… nothing particularly interesting in understanding why things work when they work right).

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm

You can bet the owner of the store targeted you, yes. You’re not going to see much bacon sold in Tel Aviv, and you won’t find a hamburger in Mumbai. The fact is you want to paint everyone that disagrees with you as an advocate of Big Government, but I’m sorry – that’s not inherent in what I say. I’m sure I do have a different view of the role of the state than you – certainly on this particular issue of vaccination. But that doesn’t change the fact that you were targeted, and it has nothing to do with the government. I’m glad you got a chicken sandwich and I’d be glad if daycare workers got vaccinations. My concern is with the question of why and when that doesn’t happen (because we know why it does happen when it does – Adam Smith and others figured that out hundreds of years ago… nothing particularly interesting in understanding why things work when they work right).

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Right.

It makes much more sense than your assumption that “not well correlated” means “not correlated” or “a correlation of zero”.

I’m simply arguing for the generally accepted difference between “not well” and “not at all”. I’m not sure why you have such a problem with that.

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Right.

It makes much more sense than your assumption that “not well correlated” means “not correlated” or “a correlation of zero”.

I’m simply arguing for the generally accepted difference between “not well” and “not at all”. I’m not sure why you have such a problem with that.

Previous post:

Next post: