By Pam Long


Note: This is part two of a three part series on how be an informed consumer with vaccine decisions. See Part 2:
Buyer Beware: Have you been C.A.S.E.’d by your Pediatrician?

The parental decision to vaccinate is more complicated than merely two options of being pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. There are five types of consumers in any purchasing decision: Loyal, Impulsive, Incented, Need Based, and Informed. See which of these fits your vaccine consumption style. Read the profile for each consumer type, and match yourself to the description that is the best fit. (Despite the pronouns used, none of the types are gender specific, and all five types could fit a man or woman.)

The Loyal Consumer

The Loyal Consumer does not question the product or brand that has served him and his family for many years. He makes a decision based on legacy. With vaccines, he does not scrutinize any dramatic increases in the number of vaccines given to children, nor does he the read the product ingredients for any potential allergens or toxins. He defers to the manufacturers to both create the product and conduct the studies that claim the products are safe. He trusts the marketing of vaccines, that they are overwhelmingly safe and effective. The Loyal Customer protects the herd mentality by unquestioningly consuming vaccine products that are made for profit and carry zero liability. He will personally promote the products, and enthusiastically share his positive experiences. He will harshly criticize anyone sharing a negative experience with vaccines because he needs affirmation of the wisdom of his legacy choice in order to maintain the social validity of his choice. He most likely has never tested his blood titers to confirm that the vaccine products were effective or beneficial. Despite proclaiming to be a Loyal Consumer, he personally has not received the booster vaccines every ten years as recommended to maintain artificial antibody response. He is free to attend college or work without all of the current 70 doses on the vaccine schedule for developing children and has no idea that that most vaccines are now mandated. In contradiction to most other Loyalist Consumer situations where he expects personalized and individualized attention, when it comes to vaccines, he has come to believe in one-size-fits-all medicine. The American Academy or Pediatrics (AAP) refers to this type of Loyal Consumer as an “Immunization Advocate” and they represent 33% of the population based on industry research. (Gust, et al, 2005, American Journal of Health Behavior)i

The Impulsive Consumer

The Impulsive Consumer makes the vast majority of her purchases as unplanned decisions. She buys when a product is offered and when the product sounds good. Many of her purchase decisions are influenced by emotions. When it comes to vaccine decisions, she will consent to every vaccine scheduled at every well-baby checkup at birth, and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24 months because vaccines are encouraged, and the idea of protecting her child from disease makes vaccines sound like a good decision. She will most likely not refuse if her child has allergies, immune system conditions, or neurological disorders because she has no awareness of potential contraindications of vaccine products. Her time-constrained pediatrician will not mention any potential for serious adverse reactions like disability or death as per the manufacturers’ lengthy product insert, but will offer instead a condensed one-page Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS) which notes only minor reactions such as mild soreness and swelling at injection site. Ultimately, the Impulsive Consumer will decide to vaccinate her baby because she fears the disease more than the vaccine. She will gladly submit her newborn to the HepB shot even though her infant, not yet engaging in unsafe sex or sharing drug needles, will have no risk for exposure. The AAP refers to the impulsive vaccine consumers as “Health Advocates” and this group represents 25% of the population.

The Incented Consumer

The Incented Consumer buys a product on sale or at a discount. He responds to marketing and promotions. He is persuadable with a good deal. With vaccines, he can be persuaded to take the product or treatment merely because it is covered by insurance. The notion that not all offered medical interventions are in a person’s best interests does not occur to him. Vaccines are free, and free is good. Offering vaccines in multi-dose shots is also appealing to the Incented Consumer. Less injection discomfort is an attractive offer, and drug interactions are not discussed. Certainly, contracting multiple viruses at once could result in serious illness, but free product, less injections, and less office visits prevails with the convenience factor. Not to mention the money saved on gas and tolls and fewer missed work days. A free drive-thru shot clinic, with no records and no accountability, is the only better situation for the Incented Consumer. And getting a free meal at the grocery store in exchange for getting an influenza shot is like winning the lottery. The AAP refers to the incented vaccine consumer as a “Go Along to Get Along” and this group represents 26% of the population.

The Needs Based Consumer

The Needs Based Consumer is cautious and does not succumb to many of the previously mentioned consumer pitfalls. The marketing of any product to her must come across many media channels: print, online, social media. Regarding vaccines, she will make a respectable attempt to look at disease exposure risks, with very few transparent and unbiased sources to guide her. She will feel good about her decision to request mercury free vaccines, without questioning the ethics of a watchdog free system that allows uninformed people to be injected with mercury containing vaccines. She will most likely adopt a selective product uptake, or alternative vaccine schedule for her child. In some cases she is misled by nurses to inject a DTaP vaccine, under the pretense that it is a necessary tetanus shot; actually, it is the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis 3-in-1 vaccine. In other cases, she is deceived by commercials to believe that HPV vaccine can prevent cervical cancer. And against her better judgment, she may be pressured by her doctors to take a vaccine during pregnancy, even though there are no studies proving that prenatal vaccines are safe for a fetus. The AAP refers to the needs based vaccine consumer group as “Fence Sitters” and this group represents 13% of the population.

The Informed Consumer

The Informed Consumer is educated beyond the marketing ploys of product manufacturers and salespeople. The Informed Consumer scrutinizes ingredients, weighs real risks against promised benefits, examines safety testing from independent sources, carefully reads the reviews and testimonials of other consumers, learns about product recalls and lawsuits, and studies literature on the cumulative effect of the product use. Most importantly, the Informed Consumer devalues the opinion of any person or organization promoting the product who has a conflict of interest or who benefits financially from the sale of the product, like the pharmaceutical sponsored television media and its promotion of vaccines. The Informed Consumer does not trust the media promotions of any product sold for massive profits with no liability. The Informed Consumer knows that under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) that the parent assumes all risk with little chance of compensation for an adverse reaction resulting in lifelong disability or death. The Informed Consumer understands how to reveal the true colors of any product salesman: reject their product and watch their reaction. If the salesman, who is most likely a pediatrician or nurse, escalates into fear tactics, bullying, and threats, then buyer beware. The Informed Consumer researches alternative approaches with less risk, and the outcomes of populations who use alternatives approaches. With vaccines, in many cases the vaccine has more adverse outcomes than the incidence of disease. The AAP refers to the informed vaccine consumers as “Worrieds” and this group represents only 3% of the population.

Your Consumer Type

What type of vaccine consumer are you?

Ultimately, all types of consumers have choice. Every person must have freedom to decline a medical intervention. After true informed consent has been presented, you get to decide if the risks outweigh the benefits. Unfortunately, there has been a mass marketing campaign to promote all vaccines, for all people, under any circumstances of contraindications or previous adverse reactions. State health departments have profound financial incentives to promote vaccines and eliminate vaccine exemptions. Vaccine industry watchdogs do not exist. There are no consumer protections. What other product is mandated for use by every person, and has complete indemnity? That anomaly alone should be a red flag that unifies all types of consumers to support vaccine exemptions. Where there is risk, there must be choice.

Copyright © 2018 Pam Long

i https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/immunizations/Pages/vaccine-hesitant-parents.aspx