The flu vaccine is now running very scarce, you can wait for weeks and there is no guarantee of getting it at all. Most of the supplies are already in the hands of doctors. Note also the following:
Random immunization is almost useless because, for many viruses, more than 95% of the population must be vaccinated to prevent the disease’s spread.
But things are not as grim as they might sound. First:
An alternative to the flu shot is FluMist, a more expensive inhaled version of the vaccine, which is recommended for healthy people between the ages of 5 and 49. There are about 4 million doses available of FluMist, health officials said.
Although those below 5 and over 49 are the at-risk groups, they are less likely to catch the flu if the rest of us are healthy.
Second, we could administer flu shots more wisely by targeting superspreaders, here is one proposal:
Reuven Cohen of Bar-Ilan University in Israel and his colleagues propose a simple modification of random vaccination that is more effective, according to their computer simulations. The idea is to randomly choose, say, 20% of the individuals and ask them to name one acquaintance; then vaccinate those acquaintances. Potential super-spreaders have such a large number of acquaintances that they are very likely to be named at least once, the researchers found. On the other hand, the super-spreaders are so few in number that the random 20% of individuals is unlikely to include many of them.
Using the team’s vaccination strategy, a disease can be stopped by vaccinating less than 20% of the individuals, in some cases, according to their computer model of a human population. The method can also be tweaked: if a larger sample is asked for names, and those named twice are vaccinated, the total number of vaccinations required can be even lower.
The trick may be getting these people to take the shots, but surely economists can come up with a useful incentives scheme for that, I would prefer a subsidy over a tax.