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Using Game Theory to Understand the Social Dynamics of Vaccination

Could game theory one day be implemented as a model for public health decisions? Gretchen Chapman, a psychologist at Rutgers University, made use of game theory to examine the social dynamics surrounding flu vaccination.

From a public health viewpoint, society is better off if we vaccinate more young people—young people, though less likely to die or become severely ill from influenza, are more likely to spread the disease than are older people.

In Chapman’s model, all participants began with 4,000 points. Both getting vaccinated and getting infected cost points.  Chapman found that the Nash Equilibrium modeled a scenario in which young people’s payoffs are tied to their own actions. Young people only exhibited a tendency towards choosing to get vaccinated when the game’s rules paid them based on the total number of points the group received. Chapman concluded that health officials must incentivize vaccinations if they want young people to maximize social welfare. Otherwise, young people will, naturally, act out of rational self-interest and bet on their youth, risking the spread of the virus to others who could be seriously harmed by it.

 

-Anonymous

 

Source:

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-gaming-flu-vaccinated.html

 

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