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With proper planning, selective rather than mass vaccination can provide immunity against flu
Date:1/3/2011

ctorate at the Hebrew University.)

The researchers made use of the fact that, even without vaccination, a disease ultimately becomes extinct on its own. But for large populations, the typical time it takes for the disease to disappear by itself can be very long. Essentially, Meerson and colleagues suggested an optimal vaccination strategy that accelerates, in the maximum possible way, this natural process of disease disappearance.

In this strategy, the vaccine must be delivered to the most susceptible populations (say children in a particular class where a certain percentage of the pupils have come down with the flu) in the form of short but intensive vaccination periods, adjusted to match the "ups and downs" of waves that occur in the natural spread of infectious disease.

Also, when the disease has a seasonal variation (like the common cold), that factor must be taken into consideration in the vaccination timing calculations.

The question that still remains is why physicists took on a problem belonging to epidemiology? Meerson says that the mathematical model that he and his colleagues used in their analysis closely resembles a quantum-mechanical model that physicists use when analyzing the dynamics of microscopic particles (such as electrons) in miniature traps. By adjusting the size of the traps upwards or downwards, one increases or decreases the chances of the electrons escaping. It is this unexpected analogy that made it possible to make the surprising conclusions about the periodic vaccination protocol that is, to show how targeted, selective vaccination can indeed limit the "escape" of infectious germs and allow the disease to die down through largely a natural process.

Meerson and colleagues have yet to model their periodic vaccination scheme using real-world data. But they say their calculations show that vaccinating just a few percent of the population could reduce the time it takes to eradicate a d
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

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