Health Principles

Allocating a Flu Shot

There’s a long line of customers hoping to get a flu shot, but there’s only one vaccine left. Jonah has been tasked with identifying which customer will get the last flu shot for the day. Jonah argues that it should go to the person who needs it most, which would be an argument based on equity. The next person in line believes that he should receive the shot, which could be an argument in favor of efficiency. Because of the low price, there appears to be a temporary shortage. Rationing and a lack of a market for price adjustments creates shortages and inefficient allocations. The store could raise the price of the last remaining few shot as an incentive to have others return tomorrow for the normal price.