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New decision model seeks to avert flu vaccine mismatch of 2007-2008 season
Date:8/5/2008

h, it may not yet be clear which flu strain will be most menacing in October. This bind leaves officials to trade off between picking early, which may mean that there are sufficient supplies of vaccines whose effectiveness is limited; and picking late, leading to vaccine supplies that are insufficient to treat the needed population.

The decision to defer production on one or more of the strains makes sense, says Prof. Kornish, when there's current uncertainty but confidence that more time will lead to more useful information.

For public officials, the authors acknowledge, deferring a decision brings pressure that may increase if additional information doesn't arrive and they stick with an early proposal after sacrificing time that might have gone to vaccine production.

The authors developed their mathematical model to describe the repeated nature of the decision over time. It allows decision makers to make what-if analyses of vaccine production rates, severity of the flu, and effectiveness of the vaccines. Numerous sensitivity analyses of assumptions and parameters in the model provide insights for improved communication among those responsible for selecting the vaccines.

The problem resembles one faced by companies that market perishable products and products with limited seasons: when new products are developed specifically for an upcoming retail season, producers balance time spent deliberating about the best product with time spent producing the inventory.


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Contact: Barry List
barry.list@informs.org
443-757-3560
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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