Imperfect vaccination: Some epidemiological and evolutionary consequences

Sylvain Gandon, Margaret Mackinnon, Sean Nee, Andrew Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


An aim of some vaccination programmes is to reduce the prevalence of an infectious disease and ultimately to eradicate it. We show that eradication success depends on the type of vaccine as well as on the vaccination coverage. Vaccines that reduce the parasite within-host growth rate select for higher parasite virulence and this evolution may both increase the prevalence of the disease and prevent disease eradication. By contrast, vaccines that reduce the probability of infection select against virulence and may lead more easily to eradication. In some cases, epidemiological feedback on parasite evolution yields an evolutionary bistable situation where, for intermediate vaccination coverage, parasites can evolve towards either high or low virulence, depending on the initial conditions. These results have practical implications for the design and use of imperfect vaccines in public- and animal-health programmes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1136
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1520
StatePublished - Jun 7 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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