Vaccinations and the Peltzman Effect

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This explains why many people have become infected with the Coronavirus even after being vaccinated.

What is the Peltzman Effect?

Sam Peltzman taught microeconomics at Chicago in 1988. The Peltzman Effect is a theory which states that people are more likely to engage in risky behavior when security measures have been mandated. The Peltzman Effect is named after Sam Peltzman’s postulation about mandating the use of seatbelts in automobiles – it would lead to more accidents. Safety perception increases risk appetite.

I received the following message this morning.
A doctor friend of mine laments: “I treated thousands of patients with Covid 19 for the last several months. But I was not positive. But after taking the vaccination, I became positive with the virus.”

The known facts:

1. The immunity against Covid 19 doesn’t build immediately after the first dose or even immediately after the second. Full fledged immunity takes a few weeks after the second dose.

2. Immunity is not absolute. Even after complete vaccination, a person can get infected. His/her chance of dying or getting a severe infection requiring hospitalisation will be substantially less though.

3. Not all vaccines work to the same extent. The efficacy varies.

4. Not all vaccines are effective against all the variants. A lot of vaccines are less effective against B1.351 (the South African variant), for example.

Now what is this Peltzman effect? And why is it important to know about it?

Peltzman effect means behaviour compensating for the perceived risk. In other terms, people become more careful when they sense greater risk and less careful if they feel more protected.

This means that vaccines are giving a sense of security which leads to a increased risky behavior.

Vaccinations won’t apply to Children, pregnant women, and people with underlying health conditions – GSA Boss.

But the problem is that while vaccines neither give immediate protection or full protection (against infection as against death), the sense of security unfortunately starts much earlier, even before the actual injection. And Peltzman effect comes into play: people wear masks with less caution, do not maintain distance as soon as they reach vaccination centres.

The Peltzman effect in fact started for most people even before they took the vaccine. Many people felt protected just looking at the vaccination numbers. The mask usage, social distancing and hand sanitisation have become progressively less. While this is attributed mainly to pandemic fatigue, the Peltzman effect cannot be ignored.

While this behaviour is dangerous for general public, this can be disastrous for health care workers who directly deal with Covid 19 patients. A lot of them can get infected in the present second wave impairing the health care services.

The Peltzman effect is also evident in the drastic decline in the usage of PPE kits by the healthcare workers.

It is important to vaccinate the majority of the people at risk. But it is also important to be aware of Peltzman effect and be more careful until the effect of vaccination takes us close to herd immunity.

Here is a definite instance where spreading awareness will save lives.

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Citizen Atare is a Ghanaian who hails from the Upper East Region. He is an ICT professional working with CERSGIS, a Remote Sensing & GIS Centre, located at the University of Ghana, Legon. Citizen Atare is an amateur freelance writer and blogger for over 20 years, who likes to research into everyday lifestyle issues and situations, politics, and cultural practices to write about to educate and also entertain his readers. He is a highly creative and motivated, highly inquisitive, open minded and to an extent risk-taking with a high visual acumen. He is a dreamer who isn’t afraid to break creative barriers. He is also a passionate aviation, tech and motoring enthusiast with a lot of knowledge to share and a private researcher. He has no formal education or certificate in journalism, but the hunger to know more and do more, backed by an impressive work portfolio is what drives him to write the things he knows best for his numerous online fans. Citizen Atare is married to Margaret and they both live in Accra with their lovely daughter Zoey. His hobbies include reading, listening to very good music; especially jazz, writing, watching action, sci-fi and adventure movies, travel and site seeing and swiming. He likes eating fufu and palm nut soup, but prefers boiled rice and kontomire stew with agushie more.

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