Who to vaccinate first among workers?

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The COVID-19 epidemic and lockdowns imposed in many countries have imposed high costs on the population: a combined health and socio-economic crisis, in which the global economy shrank by 4.3% in 2020 and 130 million people face famine.

Strategic vaccine distribution plans have generally followed World Health Organization guidelines. In many European countries, priority has been given to the population according to multiple risk criteria linked to age, work and health vulnerability. The guidelines generally do not provide priority criteria for the healthy, low-risk population under the age of 60, who make up the vast majority of the workforce vital to restoring the economy.

A new study by researchers from the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca proposes a criterion for prioritizing the administration of COVID-19 vaccines at the most advanced stage of the vaccination campaign when the elderly and vulnerable population has already been vaccinated. According to the researchers at the IMT School, the guiding principle should be that the next people to receive the vaccine should be essential workers, beneficiaries of wage guarantee schemes and workers at high risk of unemployment. This would facilitate the return to work, the recovery of the economy, and therefore a more efficient allocation of public funds and a reduction in future job losses.

The analysis conducted in the study was based on a dataset that integrates data on human mobility, excessive fatalities, workers on leave, weather conditions and other economic variables. The causal impact of mobility restrictions and blockages was estimated using weather conditions as a source of exogenous variation.

The study shows that with the restrictions imposed during the lockdown, a 1% drop in mobility implies a 0.6% drop in excess deaths the following month. On the other hand, a 1% drop in human mobility corresponds to a 10% increase in the Wage Guarantee Fund (WGF) next month. This effect is more pronounced during the first containment and gradually decreases from June, with the relaxation of restrictions. The analysis then suggests that prioritizing the vaccine to essential workers not eligible for remote work should be the priority. This strategy would help increase mobility, thereby helping the economy while reducing higher excess mortality.

There is also another aspect to consider: from July 2021, the EU regulation on COVID digital certificates allows European citizens to obtain a COVID-19 certificate, which should in principle facilitate free movement within EU Member States. Some European countries are introducing the COVID-19 certificate not only for travel purposes, but also as a requirement to enter indoor public spaces, attend events, access restaurants and even, as in the case of Italy, safe access to the workplace. With this in mind, Italy has already made the certificate compulsory for school and university staff and is currently assessing whether it also makes it compulsory for other categories of public and private workers. As unvaccinated workers from more professional categories and countries could potentially be affected by similar restrictions shortly, the need to consider the professional status and risk of unemployment of individuals when administering vaccine doses becomes even more relevant.

“The pros and cons of foreclosure policies are debated in the literature. In this study, we provide strong evidence for the benefits of Italian locking in reducing excess mortality. However, we also document the collateral damage of lockdowns in terms of the risk of unemployment. We conclude that blockages should be avoided in the future by prioritizing the vaccination of essential workers and those most at risk of unemployment among the healthy and working population, ”said Massimo Riccaboni, professor of economics at the IMT school and author of the article.

Regarding the short availability of vaccines and their optimal distribution, the results of the study are particularly relevant for middle- and low-income countries, where the share of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is significantly lower compared to countries with high income, with percentages between 1 and 30 percent. The authors’ future research will be devoted to understanding how mobility patterns can influence employment risk and vaccination campaigns in other countries and across different sectors of the economy.


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More information:
COVID-19 vaccination and risk of unemployment: lessons from the Italian crisis, Scientific reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-021-97462-6

Provided by IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca

Quote: COVID-19: Who to vaccinate first among workers? (2021, September 17) retrieved September 17, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-09-covid-vaccinate-workers.html

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