In "exclusive" Westchester County, the large Mount Kisco Medical Group quickly exhausted its supply of H1N1 vaccine. Likewise, in the wealthy Boston suburb of Lexington, parents faced long vaccine queues this past Saturday, and discovered that demand exceeded supply. In both places, patients were charged for the vaccine. Other anecdotes of similar shortages made headlines across the country.

In contrast, the NY Times is reporting this morning that NY City provided free vaccines to middle school and high school students, and essentially no one showed up. They were expecting to provide 31,500 vaccines, but only administered 1,701.

Since it seems implausible to consider H1N1 vaccines a Giffen Good, what economic/market model can describe this phenomenon? Is this a socioeconomic phenomenon? A distrust of local public health authorities? Or an apathy unique to NY City? Is there a larger lesson that may apply to the Washington health care debate currently underway?





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