Background: Preventive measures are essential to limit the spread of new viruses; their uptake is key to their success. However, the vaccination uptake in pandemic outbreaks is often low. We aim to elicit how disease and vaccination characteristics determine preferences of the general public for new pandemic vaccinations.
Methods: In an internet-based discrete choice experiment (DCE) a representative sample of 536 participants (49% participation rate) from the Dutch population was asked for their preference for vaccination programs in hypothetical communicable disease outbreaks. We used scenarios based on two disease characteristics (susceptibility to and severity of the disease) and five vaccination program characteristics (effectiveness, safety, advice regarding vaccination, media attention, and out-of-pocket costs). The DCE design was based on a literature review, expert interviews and focus group discussions. A panel latent class logit model was used to estimate which trade-offs individuals were willing to make.
Results: All above mentioned characteristics proved to influence respondents' preferences for vaccination. Preference heterogeneity was substantial. Females who stated that they were never in favor of vaccination made different trade-offs than males who stated that they were (possibly) willing to get vaccinated. As expected, respondents preferred and were willing to pay more for more effective vaccines, especially if the outbreak was more serious (€6-€39 for a 10% more effective vaccine). Changes in effectiveness, out-of-pocket costs and in the body that advises the vaccine all substantially influenced the predicted uptake.
Conclusions: We conclude that various disease and vaccination program characteristics influence respondents' preferences for pandemic vaccination programs. Agencies responsible for preventive measures during pandemics can use the knowledge that out-of-pocket costs and the way advice is given affect vaccination uptake to improve their plans for future pandemic outbreaks. The preference heterogeneity shows that information regarding vaccination needs to be targeted differently depending on gender and willingness to get vaccinated.