To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?
Infectious disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide, accounting for one in four deaths. This, combined with the threat of high-profile pandemics such as avian flu, is concentrating public attention on the importance given to infectious diseases.
Historically, few medical interventions have been as clearly successful as vaccination, which eliminated smallpox and has greatly reduced polio and other infectious diseases. For years, policy-makers had little difficulty implementing decisions about vaccines because the diseases they prevented were especially severe and the costs of the vaccines were relatively inexpensive. Now, however, deciding whether to vaccinate is much more problematic: Vaccines cost a lot more and health budgets are stretched to the limit.
Canada Research Chair Marc Brisson's previous research into the important questions surrounding vaccination, produced results that influenced recommendations regarding varicella vaccination (against chickenpox and shingles) in Canada and abroad. His current research focuses on modelling the health and economic impact of the vaccines against human papillomavirus (which causes cervical cancer) and shingles. He is also examining the efficiency of existing vaccine programs.
In his research, Brisson asks questions like: How should limited health-care budgets be allocated to competing programs? Who should be vaccinated and at what age? What's the cost-effectiveness of different strategies? What's the risk of negative population effects by introducing a new vaccine?
To answer these questions, Brisson develops and uses complex models aimed at helping policy-makers make the best decisions possible for the good of our society.