Impact of vaccine behavior on the resurgence of measles

Eunha Shim, John J. Grefenstette, Steven M. Albert, Brigid E. Cakouros, Larissa Bohn, Donald S. Burke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Widespread avoidance of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination (MMR) demonstrates that the effectiveness of vaccination programs can be thwarted by public misperceptions of vaccine risk. By coupling game theory and epidemic models, we examine vaccination choice among populations stratified into vaccine skeptics and vaccine believers. The two behavioral groups are assumed to be heterogeneous with respect to their perceptions of vaccine and infection risks. We demonstrate that the pursuit of self-interest among vaccine skeptics often leads to vaccination levels that are suboptimal for a population, even if complete coverage is achieved among vaccine believers. Furthermore, as the number of vaccine skeptics increases, the probability of infection among vaccine skeptics increases initially, but it decreases once the vaccine skeptics begin receiving the vaccination, if both behavioral groups are vaccinated according to individual self-interest. This research illustrates the importance of public education on vaccine safety and infection risk in order to achieve vaccination levels that are sufficient to maintain herd immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationModeling the Interplay Between Human Behavior and the Spread of Infectious Diseases
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781461454748
ISBN (Print)1461454735, 9781461454731
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)


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