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To take the shot or not? A look on how we can apply game theory to vaccinations

This article talks about how traveling internationally facilitates the spread of diseases between various countries. The authors talk about how what is best for each individual person- getting a vaccination, or traveling, or any decision that can put you in contact with any diseases, comes at the cost of something- there is a trade off. The example given deals with taking a vaccination- the cost of getting one is, money, time, and also the possibility of being weak for a couple days after taking the vaccination because of the fact that vaccinations contain some of the live virus. But the pay off is possibly having immunity to the disease. They then take the flu shot into consideration as a concrete example. Since the majority of people take the flu shot, the likelihood of them getting the flu is fairly low since everyone around them is immune to it. The writer goes further to assess that if every person thinks this way, then no one gets the vaccination and everyone can get the flu.

This is game theory- the individual deciding whether to get a given vaccination has to weigh the pros and the cons and make a decision based off of assumptions on what they think that the population as a whole will be making. This is a tough decision, because in the most basic situation, the individual has two choices to make- to take or not take the flu shot. And they base this decision off of whether the  the population takes the given shot or not. If the majority of the population takes the shot then the individual will probably decide to not take it since the majority of the population has taken it. If the majority of the population decides to not take the vaccination, then the individual is better off taking the vaccination. This shows that there is no overall best response for this situation. This article relates to our game theory section and shows how we can see game theory applied to real world decisions that we may not have thought were relevant before. When thinking about game theory I always thought about it in context of games- a win or loss but never realized that almost all aspects of life can relate to it. 


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October 2018