Course: Teaching Vaccine Economics Everywhere: Health Economics For Vaccines

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Course Description

The process of creating vaccines, manufacturing, distributing, and injecting them into individuals is a complex process requiring multiple decisions by multiple groups and individuals. On the supply side there are pharmaceutical companies, regulatory authorities, distributors, and thousands of health care workers who have to make strategic choices. On the demand side there are parents, relatives, friends, and their social network who have to choose to receive a vaccine and the scheduled boosters. After they receive a vaccine, they may or may not change their exposure to risks of disease.

The field of economics can be helpful at understanding decisions related to supply and demand. Economics focusses on choice under uncertainty. This class will review the relevant components of economics that can help inform decisions that drive the supply and demand for vaccines. There is a common misconception that economics is only relevant to goods that trade on the private market-and vaccines are heavily subsidized and provided publicly in most cases. However, the principles of supply and demand still apply to publicly provided goods and the economic principles are enriched by the need to understand how these private decision impact the entire public.

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Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain economic terms and how to use them for planning and decisions
  • Explain health system building blocks and their interconnections
  • Apply economic tools to understand what determines price
  • Explain government subsidies and their role in health care delivery
  • Identify determinants of demand for health products and its determinants
  • Identify how public health programs like vaccines fit with universal health coverage
  • Apply the fundamental principles of health insurance to vaccine delivery
  • Appraise the role of the government in health and healthcare
  • Summarize how healthcare systems and health policies change as medical technology advances and costs rise
  • Analyze the economics of health policies designed to expand universal health coverage, improve quality, and contain costs
  • Appraise the interplay of public and private sectors in health
  • Discuss the economic challenges regarding that arise regarding the global availability and the country adoption of new vaccines


Course readings are listed on the Readings page.

Overall Course Goals

The goal is to understand how the principles of economics apply to the supply and demand for vaccines.