Logistical constraints lead to an intermediate optimum in outbreak response vaccination

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Dynamic models in disease ecology have historically evaluated vaccination strategies under the assumption that they are implemented homogeneously in space and time. However, this approach fails to formally account for operational and logistical constraints inherent in the distribution of vaccination to the population at risk. Thus, feedback between the dynamic processes of vaccine distribution and transmission might be overlooked. Here, we present a spatially explicit, stochastic Susceptible-Infected-Recovered-Vaccinated model that highlights the density-dependence and spatial constraints of various diffusive strategies of vaccination during an outbreak. The model integrates an agent-based process of disease spread with a partial differential process of vaccination deployment. We characterize the vaccination response in terms of a diffusion rate that describes the distribution of vaccination to the population at risk from a central location. This generates an explicit trade-off between slow diffusion, which concentrates effort near the central location, and fast diffusion, which spreads a fixed vaccination effort thinly over a large area. We use stochastic simulation to identify the optimum vaccination diffusion rate as a function of population density, interaction scale, transmissibility, and vaccine intensity. Our results show that, conditional on a timely response, the optimal strategy for minimizing outbreak size is to distribute vaccination resource at an intermediate rate: fast enough to outpace the epidemic, but slow enough to achieve local herd immunity. If the response is delayed, however, the optimal strategy for minimizing outbreak size changes to a rapidly diffusive distribution of vaccination effort. The latter may also result in significantly larger outbreaks, thus suggesting a benefit of allocating resources to timely outbreak detection and response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1006161
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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