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Study finds vaccine mandates increase uptake of COVID shots by almost 70%

February 17, 2022

Are vaccine mandates effective in getting people to immunize themselves against COVID-19? A recent pre-print study by economics researchers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) offers evidence that government-mandated proof of vaccination requirements have a tangible impact in increasing first-dose vaccine uptake. 

In an effort to increase COVID-19 immunization rates especially among the vaccine hesitant, public health authorities around the world have introduced proof of vaccination mandates, which require people to be vaccinated in order to access non-essential services such as restaurants, theatres and other public venues. 

Using data from ten Canadian provinces and three European countries that implemented such mandates during July–September of 2021, the researchers — professor Alexander Karaivanov, associate professor Hitoshi Shigeoka, associate professor Shih En Lu, and assistant professor Dongwoo Kim— found that the number of new first-dose vaccinations spiked following a mandate announcement.

According to the study, the announcement of a vaccine mandate led to an estimated 66% average increase in weekly first doses across Canada. The estimated effect varies across the provinces, from a 34% estimated increase in Ontario to over 300% in Alberta. The researchers obtained similar results as well for Europe, with a 17% increase in first doses for France and 179% for Italy. 

Based on the results, the study also concluded that mandates are a more effective strategy in increasing vaccination rates compared to other approaches such as financial incentives and behavioural nudges.