Mortality due to vaccine-preventable infectious diseases is declining worldwide, thanks to ever-expanding vaccine coverage, especially in the world’s poorest countries. However, as infectious diseases become rare and our memory of them fades, vaccine “scares” and other forms of vaccine exemption are occurring with increasing frequency. In some cases, exemption is rivaling or even replacing accessibility as the primary barrier to ensuring high vaccine coverage and thus global eradication. Mathematical models of infectious disease transmission and vaccination have traditionally left out the aspect of human vaccinating behaviour, but to address the problem of vaccine exemption, it is necessary to incorporate human behaviour into models. In this talk I will describe some of my research over the past 10 years dedicated to advancing the theory and application of behaviour-disease dynamic models, which are mathematical models that couple disease dynamics with population vaccinating behaviour. The goals of this research are: to develop the theory of coupled behaviour-disease dynamics, to better understand the mechanisms behind these coupled dynamics, to empirically validate behaviour-disease models, and eventually to harness such models to aid vaccination policies in both rich and poor countries. Methodologies include mathematical (differential equation) models, network simulations, and game theory. Infectious diseases studied include measles, whooping cough, and smallpox. This talk will be suitable for an interdisciplinary audience.

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