Undesirable Side Effect

You are appointed Secretary of Health for the United States. It is your job to make decisions as it pertains to national health matters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notifies you that there is a new disease in the population that may have serious consequences if not quickly controlled.

The CDC has created a vaccination for this new disease but recommends against vaccinating the entire population because the vaccination has an undesirable side effect, death. There is no way to tell prior to giving someone the vaccination if they will have this side effect. On the other hand, the vaccination has been proven to mitigate the impact of the disease.

The table below shows the impact of the vaccination program. Based on the percentage of the population that you choose to have vaccinated, the second column shows the cost of the vaccination program in terms of the number of people who have an adverse reaction to the vaccination and die as a result. Assume that there are no other costs.

Percent of population vaccinated Cost of the vaccination program (in millions of deaths).
0% 0
10 4
20 14
30 30
40 55
50 80
60 105
70 135
80 165
90 195
100 200

The table below shows the impact of the disease based on the proportion of the population that you choose to have vaccinated. Again, the cost below is assumed to be the only cost associated with the disease and include all relevant costs in the decision.

Notice that the cost of the disease as you vaccinate more and more of the population decreases.

Percent of population vaccinated Costs of the Disease (in millions of deaths)
0% 200
10 180
20 160
30 140
40 120
50 100
60 80
70 60
80 40
90 20
100 0


Come up with a plan for the vaccination program. In particular, you must choose a percent of the population that you will have vaccinated. Write your plan as if you were writing a letter to the President informing him of your decision. Obviously as a part of this letter you must justify your choice of percent. You do not have time to gather any more information other than what you are given here so don’t say as part of your justification that you are going to study this problem further and wait the results of further study.

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