Swine Flu vaccination: voluntary system works

February 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Social interaction between neighbours, work colleagues and other communities and social groups makes voluntary vaccination programs for epidemics such as Swine Flu, SARS or Bird Flu a surprisingly effective method of disease control.

New research published today, Thursday 11 February, in , shows that contact with others can positively influence individuals to choose voluntary vaccination when considering the pros and cons.

The group of Chinese researchers found that in scale-free networks — social networks with an uneven distribution of connectedness such as neighbourhoods, work places or gyms — the so-called hub nodes, people with multiple , tend to choose to vaccinate themselves as they are at higher risk of infection from others, thus containing the spread of epidemics.

Based on their studies, the researchers have observed that at the beginning of an epidemic, when levels of infection are high, a large number of people will gradually take vaccination. As the effects of the temporary vaccination wear off, a second wave of outbreak will occur, however on a less severe level due to the number of individuals with still effective immunisation.

This is why outbreaks of disease and voluntary vaccination occur periodically, eventually settling down to a stable state. Individuals with a large social network play a crucial role in this cycle as, given information on the spread of the disease is freely available, the majority of them will choose voluntary vaccination.

In order to set up an effective vaccination strategy it is therefore crucial to affect the hub nodes' willingness to vaccinate, which can potentially be negatively influenced by factors such as the risk of infection, the coverage of disease and the cost of vaccination.

As the researchers write, "Sometimes the high costs of vaccination or misunderstanding the side effect of vaccinations can reduce the enthusiasm for taking vaccination. In this case the external incentives such as subsidy of vaccination cost would be helpful in enhancing the vaccination inclination of the hub nodes."

Explore further: Britain criticized for vaccination delay

More information: www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/1367-2630/12/2/02301

Related Stories

Britain criticized for vaccination delay

October 13, 2007

Critics say delaying a cervical cancer vaccination program could condemn 1,400 more British girls to develop the disease and 420 to die from it.

Predicting effectiveness of flu vaccination campaigns

February 9, 2010

A new study, published by Elsevier this month in Vaccine, describes a new method that assesses the impact and cost-effectiveness of a range of vaccination options. The model was applied to the 2009 Influenza H1N1 outbreak ...

Recommended for you

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

Exploring the physics of a chocolate fountain

November 24, 2015

A mathematics student has worked out the secrets of how chocolate behaves in a chocolate fountain, answering the age-old question of why the falling 'curtain' of chocolate surprisingly pulls inwards rather than going straight ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.