Achievement of the herd immunity is essential for preventing the periodic spreading of an infectious disease such as the flu. If vaccination is voluntary, as vaccination coverage approaches the critical level required for herd immunity, there is less incentive for individuals to be vaccinated; this results in an increase in the number of so-called "free-riders" who craftily avoid infection via the herd immunity and avoid paying any cost. We use a framework originating in evolutionary game theory to investigate this type of social dilemma with respect to epidemiology and the decision of whether to be vaccinated. For each individual in a population, the decision on vaccination is associated with how one assesses the risk of infection. In this study, we propose a new risk-assessment model in a vaccination game when an individual updates her strategy, she compares her own payoff to a net payoff obtained by averaging a collective payoff over individuals who adopt the same strategy as that of a randomly selected neighbor. In previous studies of vaccination games, when an individual updates her strategy, she typically compares her payoff to the payoff of a randomly selected neighbor, indicating that the risk for changing her strategy is largely based on the behavior of one other individual, i.e., this is an individual-based risk assessment. However, in our proposed model, risk assessment by any individual is based on the collective success of a strategy and not on the behavior of any one other individual. For strategy adaptation, each individual always takes a survey of the degree of success of a certain strategy that one of her neighbors has adopted, i.e., this is a strategy-based risk assessment. Using computer simulations, we determine how these two different risk-assessment methods affect the spread of an infectious disease over a social network. The proposed model is found to benefit the population, depending on the structure of the social network and cost of vaccination. Our results suggest that individuals (or governments) should understand the structure of their social networks at the regional level, and accordingly, they should adopt an appropriate risk-assessment methodology as per the demands of the situation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Applied Mathematics