Vaccine Marketing Techniques


‘Recipe’ That Fosters Higher Interest And Demand For Influenza Vaccine

The following is a CDC document for health professionals on how to sell flu vaccines, and it describes exactly what the medical profession and media are currently doing with the swine flu ‘epidemic’:

1. Influenza’s arrival coincides with immunization season (i.e. when people can take action).

2. Dominant strain and initial cases of disease are associated with severe illness or outcomes.
Occur among people for whom influenza is not generally thought to cause serious complications (i.e. children, healthy adults, healthy seniors).
In cities and communities with major media outlets (e.g. daily newspapers, major TV stations).

3. Medical experts and public health authorities publicly (via media) state concern and alarm (and predict dire outcomes) and urge influenza vaccination.

4. The combination of 2 and 3 result in significant media interest and attention, framing of the flu season in terms that motivate behaviour (e.g. as ‘very severe’, ‘More severe than last or past years’, ‘deadly.’).

5. Continued reports from health officials and media that influenza is causing severe illness and/or affecting lots of people – helping foster the perception that many people are susceptible to a bad case of influenza.

6. Visable tangible examples of the illness (e.g. pictures of children, families of those affected) and people getting vaccinated (first to motivate, the latter to reinforce).

7. References to and discussions of pandemic influenza with continued reference to the importance of vaccination.

Implications of the ‘recipe’

A large component of consumer demand for flu vaccination is contingent upon things we can’t control.

Vaccination demand, particularly among people who don’t routinely receive an annual influenza vaccination is related to heightened concern, anxiety and worry. For example:

A perception or sense that many people are falling ill.

A perception or sense that many people are experiencing bad illness.

A perception or sense of vulnerability to contracting and experiencing bad illness.

Influenza Immunization Challenges

The easiest people to communicate with are in segment 1, but they are already convinced of the value and benefits of annual influenza vaccination.

Persuading people in segments 2 and 3 to change behaviour is quite challenging, they are more skeptical about influenza consequences, vaccination need and benefits, effectiveness of influenza vaccine etc and often hold their beliefs quite firmly.

Achieving and maintaining public and media interest in the 6th or 7th leading cause of death.

Effectively addressing parent concerns about the number and timing of vaccinations and thimerosal.

Some component of success (higher demand for influenza vaccination) stems from information and media stories that create motivating (high) levels of concern and anxiety about influenza.

INDUCING WORRY, RAISED ANXIETY AND CONCERN IN PEOPLE brings forth a number of issues and presents many dilemmas for health care professionals.

The belief that you can inform and warn people and get them to take appropriate actions or precautions with respect to a health threat or risk without actually making them anxious or concerned.

This is not possible. Rather….

“This is like breaking up with your boyfriend without hurting his feelings. It can’t be done.”

So the recipe is basically to scare people and make them think they are going to be seriously ill or die when they are not, in order to sell a drug or vaccine.


For the full document.

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