Why does vaccination coverage oscillate?


Vaccination has greatly reduced the burden of infectious diseases worldwide. However, by 2015, only smallpox has been eradicated by programs of voluntary vaccination and global outbreaks of measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio and rubella are repeatedly being reported in both developed and developing regions. Why voluntary vaccination programs succeed or fail is contingent on the acceptance or rejection of vaccines by individuals; considering the vaccination decision-making process is thus pivotal for making inferences about the dynamics of vaccination coverage and disease transmission

Theoretical studies predict that it is not possible to eradicate a disease under voluntary vaccination because of the emergence of non-vaccinating “free-riders” when vaccination coverage increases. A central tenet of this approach is that human behaviour follows an economic model of rational choice. Yet, empirical studies reveal that vaccination decisions do not necessarily maximize individual self-interest. In this project we use modelling and experimental technique to investigate the dynamics of vaccination coverage using an approach that dispenses with individual payoff maximization and assumes that risk perception results from the interaction between epidemiology and cognitive biases.

The team includes Marina Voinson, Sylvain Billiard, Maxime Derex and Alex Alvergne

Related publication

Voinson M, Billiard S, Alvergne A. Beyond rational decision-making: Modelling the influence of cognitive biases on the dynamics of vaccination coverage. PLoS One. 2015;10.