Business student has the best idea for improving vaccination willingness

Business Administration student David Teng has the best idea to increase willingness for vaccinations in the Netherlands. Together with his niece Yeewah Chong (UvA student), he came up with ‘Covid-19 Opt-out system’, a system that should make vaccination planning much easier. With the idea they won the "Covid Behavioral Challenge", launched by the Dutch government.The third prize was won by the idea for a vaccination buddy-campaign of Jari Hoogstins (researcher at ECRi), Emiel Maasland (managing director of ECRi) and Inge Merkelbach (behavioral scientist at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences).

The competition is intended to collect good ideas to increase the willingness to vaccinate in the Netherlands. The best idea is worth 15.000 euros. The third prize went to the idea of ​​researcher Inge Merkelbach (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences), who together with two researchers from ECRi (Erasmus Competition & Regulation institute) thought of the ‘vaccination buddy campaign’. The campaign is intended to encourage (especially) young people to make an appointment with a buddy (for example a housemate or family member) and to share it on social media.

Automatic scheduling vaccinations

The idea of ​​Teng and Chong is that vaccination appointments are automatically scheduled at the nearest vaccination station. People still have the option to cancel or change the appointment themselves. “Setting vaccinations as the default reduces transaction costs, such as mental effort, paperwork, and difficulty making the appointment. We hope this will lead to an increase in the number of people who are willing to take the vaccine”, explains Teng. The system also sends SMS reminders, with the aim of significantly reducing the number of missed and canceled appointments.

Inspiration from donor study

Currently, the student is following a pre-master's degree in Business Administration in order follow the master's degree in Management of Innovation at the Rotterdam School of Management. Previously, he completed a bachelor's degree in Industrial Product Design and studied entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley, California. “This challenge fits in very well with my background, of course, because I have affinity and experience in the field of innovation. Ultimately, we came up with an idea, based on a famous 2013 study by Johnson and Goldstein, in which they show how changes in the donor system can dramatically increase the number of donors.

More commitment through vaccination buddy

The idea for a vaccination buddy from ESSB and ECRi is based on several behavioral principles that have been shown to promote positive health behaviors. First, making an appointment with a buddy increases the likelihood of keeping the appointment. Announcing this publicly on social media further increases this commitment. Research shows that such means increase the likelihood that an intention will also become an actual action when the time comes for the appointment. Second, by involving a buddy, vaccination can become a social activity, making it more appealing. Going together not only makes it more fun, a buddy also helps people who hate or are afraid of needles.

Third, exhibiting the desired behavior on social media reinforces the social norm because it implicitly communicates that getting vaccinated is the right and socially desirable behavior. Social norms appear to play an important role in influencing the (health) behavior of others. The reason for initially targeting young people is that they may be less intrinsically motivated to get vaccinated than older people, because the chance of being seriously affected by the virus is smaller.

In the coming weeks, it is explored which elements of the award-winning ideas can be used in future public policy related to Covid-19. Would you like to know more about these and other award-winning ideas? Read more on the official website.

More information

Meral van Leeuwen, press officer EUR, 06-40264367,

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