Effect of travel distance on household demand for typhoid vaccines: implications for planning
Typhoid fever causes millions of illnesses and hundreds of thousands of deaths yearly. Vaccinations would mitigate this problem, but the users would probably have to pay some or most of the cost. Several willingness-to-pay studies have assessed the effect of price on private demand to provide a basis for financial planning of campaigns, but the effect of travel distance, which is a potentially important determinant of demand, has not been studied. This paper thus has two objectives: (i) conduct a willingness-to-pay survey to assess the effects of distance, price and other variables on the private demand for typhoid vaccinations in a rural township of China where a campaign is under consideration; and (ii) embed the demand function in a mathematical model to address three planning questions; should each village have its own clinic, would one clinic be best or should the number of clinics be something in-between? Private vaccine demand was found to depend on and be inelastic with respect to both price and travel distance. A 1-km increase in distance caused the number of vaccinations demanded to decrease the same as a $0.5 increase in price. Thus, the marginal rate of substitution was $0.5 per km. A single clinic would be best for the township only if diseconomies of scale in supplying vaccinations exceeded the marginal rate of substitution. Otherwise, multiple clinics close to users would be optimal. Thus, deciding the number, location and capacities of clinics for vaccination planning is as important as deciding what price(s) to charge.