Perceived Risk and Vaccine Hesitancy: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Italy

10 Pages Posted: 10 May 2021 Last revised: 14 Jun 2021

See all articles by Claudio Deiana

Claudio Deiana

University of Cagliari - Department of Economics; University of Essex - Department of Economics; Universita di Cagliari - Centre for North South Economic Research (CRENOS)

Andrea Geraci

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Gianluca Mazzarella

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Fabio Sabatini

University of Rome I

Date Written: April 16, 2021

Abstract

We study the impact of vaccine hesitancy on the take up of the COVID-19 immunization campaign in Italy. Our empirical strategy exploits a quasi-experiment that occurred with the temporary suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine (AZ) in March 2021. Before the interruption, the AZ vaccination trend followed the same pattern as Pfizer-Biontech (PB). We document that, after the suspension was lifted, injections of the two vaccines started to diverge, with AZ following a declining pattern relative to PB. This divergence led to the loss of approximately 662,760 doses in the first three weeks following the suspension, resulting in a severe delay in Italy's immunization program. Using Google search data, we then show that the persistence in the AZ slowdown was likely driven by vaccine hesitancy. After authorities resumed the roll-out of the vaccine, the gap between AZ and PB inoculation rates became greater in regions displaying higher concerns for the vaccine's side effects.

Keywords: COVID-19; Vaccine; Google Searches

JEL Classification: I12; I18; L82; L86

Suggested Citation

Deiana, Claudio and Geraci, Andrea and Mazzarella, Gianluca and Sabatini, Fabio, Perceived Risk and Vaccine Hesitancy: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Italy (April 16, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3842902 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3842902

Claudio Deiana (Contact Author)

University of Cagliari - Department of Economics ( email )

Cagliari, 09124
Italy

University of Essex - Department of Economics ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Universita di Cagliari - Centre for North South Economic Research (CRENOS) ( email )

V. S. Ignazio 78
Cagliari, 09124
ITALY

Andrea Geraci

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) ( email )

Gianluca Mazzarella

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) ( email )

Via Enrico Fermi 2749, Ispra, VA
Ispra, VA 21027
Italy

Fabio Sabatini

University of Rome I ( email )

Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5
Rome, 00185
Italy

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