Opposition to vaccination has long been a non-negligible public health phenomenon resulted from people's varied perceptions toward vaccination (e.g., vaccine-phobia). This paper investigates the voluntary vaccination behavior of a heterogeneous population during an epidemic outbreak, where each individual makes its own vaccination decision to minimize its expected disutility from both vaccine-phobia and the risk of infection. Such a problem is known as a vaccination game, as people's vaccination decisions not only affect their own disutilities but those of all others through probabilistic disease transmissions. To study the vaccination game, the susceptible–infected–removed disease propagation process is generalized into a new epidemic dynamics model to allow dynamic vaccination and immunity activation in a heterogeneous mixing population. An efficient computation method is proposed to evaluate the final state of the dynamic epidemic system. Then, a classic game-theoretical equilibrium model is built upon these results to examine the impacts of people's vaccination behavior on the overall risk of epidemic outbreak. A hypothetical case study is used to validate the dynamics model and the derived results, and extensive numerical experiments are conducted to identify the key factors that affect people's vaccination decisions and the risk of an outbreak. Moreover, three alternative vaccination schemes are also studied to examine the effects of early and non-differential vaccination treatments, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122032
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Epidemic dynamics
  • Heterogeneous mixing population
  • Vaccination game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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