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Mean-field analysis of an inductive reasoning game: application to influenza vaccination.

Abstract

Recently we have introduced an inductive reasoning game of voluntary yearly vaccination to establish whether or not a population of individuals acting in their own self-interest would be able to prevent influenza epidemics. Here, we analyze our model to describe the dynamics of the collective yearly vaccination uptake. We discuss the mean-field equations of our model and first order effects of fluctuations. We explain why our model predicts that severe epidemics are periodically expected even without the introduction of pandemic strains. We find that fluctuations in the collective yearly vaccination uptake induce severe epidemics with an expected periodicity that depends on the number of independent decision makers in the population. The mean-field dynamics also reveal that there are conditions for which the dynamics become robust to the fluctuations. However, the transition between fluctuation-sensitive and fluctuation-robust dynamics occurs for biologically implausible parameters. We also analyze our model when incentive-based vaccination programs are offered. When a family-based incentive is offered, the expected periodicity of severe epidemics is increased. This results from the fact that the number of independent decision makers is reduced, increasing the effect of the fluctuations. However, incentives based on the number of years of prepayment of vaccination may yield fluctuation-robust dynamics where severe epidemics are prevented. In this case, depending on prepayment, the transition between fluctuation-sensitive and fluctuation-robust dynamics may occur for biologically plausible parameters. Our analysis provides a practical method for identifying how many years of free vaccination should be provided in order to successfully ameliorate influenza epidemics.

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