Vaccine scares and the interplay between disease dynamics and strategic individual vaccinating choices 


Abstract: Mortality due to vaccine-preventable infectious diseases is declining worldwide, thanks to ever-expanding vaccine coverage, especially in the world’s poorest countries.  However, as infectious diseases become rare and our memory of them fades, vaccine “scares” and other forms of vaccine exemption are occurring with increasing frequency.  In some cases, exemption is rivaling or even replacing accessibility as the primary barrier to ensuring high vaccine coverage and thus global eradication.  Mathematical models of infectious disease transmission have traditionally ignored human vaccinating behaviour, but to address the problem of vaccine exemption, it is necessary to incorporate human behaviour into the models.  “Behaviour-incidence models” are mathematical models that address this by combining a disease incidence model with a vaccinating behaviour model. The literature on such models has grown significantly in the past decade, but important challenges remain: existing theory is often inconsistent with real-world vaccinating behaviour, and the models are often not validated against empirical data.  In this talk I will give a broad overview of some of my research over the past 10 years dedicated to addressing these challenges.  The goals of this research are: to develop the theory of coupled behaviour-incidence dynamics, to better understand the mechanisms behind these coupled dynamics, to empirically validate behaviour-incidence models, and eventually to harness such models to aid vaccination policies in both rich and poor countries.  Methodologies include mathematical models, network simulations, and game theory.  Infectious diseases studied include measles, whooping cough, and smallpox.

Updated on 06/02/2014


Access to all events