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The Flu Season Campaign Begins
By Sherri Tenpenny, DO

The Flu Season Campaign Begins
By Sherri Tenpenny, DO
August 29, 2004

As predictable as the return of yellow school buses and Monday Night Football, the arrival of fall also brings the first fearful chatter about the approaching flu season. But this year there is a twist: the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has devised a portentous new blueprint to ensure the economic success of this season's flu vaccine.

Concerned over data documenting that almost 65% of people surveyed in 2003 did not receive the flu shot —including nearly 47% with chronic illnesses and 78% of children aged 6-23 months —a new strategy has been devised. The plan is fully disclosed in a 51 slide communiqué called "Planning for the 2004-05 Influenza Vaccination Season: A Communication Situation Analysis," prepared by Glen Nowak, Ph.D., the Associate Director for Communications at the National Immunization Program.

The most important part of the program, "The Seven-Step Recipe for Generating Interest in, and Demand for, Flu (or any other) Vaccination," is designed to methodically manipulate the general public. Language within the presentation reveals the intent of the government and their drug company "partners" to use major news media (newswires, TV) to send scheduled, fear-based messages in an attempt to convince the unsuspecting public that not only is the flu shot necessary, but to motivate them to demand it. This will amount to millions of dollars of free adverting for flu vaccine manufacturers.

Here is a synopsis of the CDC's plan:

  • Step 1: Start discussing the flu at the beginning of the "immunization season."

    Posters, fliers and media campaign materials are generally mailed to public health departments and healthcare provider offices in mid-August, "planting the seeds" in the minds of patients so that they request the flu vaccine when it arrives.

  • Step 2: The media will begin to make pronouncements that the "new" influenza strains anticipated this year "will be associated with severe illness and serious outcomes."

    Right on cue, the government announced on August 25, that it is "preparing for world's next big flu outbreak." A report released to the Associated Press suggests that a bad flu season could kill up to 207,000 Americans. To fuel the hysteria, the CDC and the Department of Human Services announced that they are jointly issuing a "The Pandemic Influenza Response and Preparedness Plan" which will stress "ways to speed up vaccine production, limit the spread of a super-flu, and care for the ill."

  • Step 3: The build up will continue throughout the early fall, as local and national "medical experts and public health authorities publicly (e.g., via media) state concern and alarm (by predicting dire outcomes)—and urge influenza vaccination."

    Here's one example: "We know we're going to have a pandemic because, historically, we're overdue for one," said Neil Pascoe, epidemiologist in the infectious disease division of the Texas Department of Health. "When it happens, it's going to be huge. It will be global, and everyone is going to be could be terribly fatal. Imagine 4 million Texans [becoming] infected, and 20 percent of them die."

    Be prepared for many similar statements in major newspapers and on national TV stations as the weeks progress.

  • Step 4: Reports from medical experts will be used to "frame the flu season in terms [that will] motivate behavior." Language to be used includes, "very severe," "more severe than last or past years," "deadly")."

    Last year, there were 1026 messages sent via the media between September 21-28. Phrases used included, "this could be the worst flu season ever," "the flu kills 36,000 people per year" and "the flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu." Even though less than 175 people actually died from influenza in 2003, anticipate exponentially more messages regarding the "deadly flu" will be pushed through the news media this year.

  • Steps 5: Continue to release reports from health officials through the media that influenza is causing severe illness and/or affecting lots of people "helping to foster the perception that many people are susceptible to a bad case of influenza."

  • Step 6: Give visible and tangible examples of the seriousness of influenza by showing pictures of ill children and affected families who are willing to come forward with their stories. "Show pictures of people being vaccinated, the first to motivate, the latter to reinforce."

  • Step 7: List references to, and have discussions regarding, the influenza pandemic. "Make continued reference to the importance of vaccination."

    The language used to describe Steps 5, 6, and 7 was taken directly from Nowak's presentation. This should leave little doubt that the government intends to use the media to create hysteria that will increase the demand for a pharmaceutical product.

    Vaccine manufacturers often cry the blues about revenues lost by producing vaccines. However, last year, Chiron, one of the two largest vaccine manufacturers, made 38 million flu shots, accounting for nearly $230 million in revenue. And even though sales of FluMist, the intranasal flu vaccine, reportedly "failed miserably,' the company still marked $33 million in revenues from sales of the product. Not exactly the stellar returns MedImmune had hoped for, but clearly revenues were made.

    Health officials are expecting that, through the publicity generated by last year's flu hype, coupled with a carefully planned and implemented new strategy, record numbers will seek vaccination this year. Perhaps understanding the tactical maneuvers of the CDC-Big Pharma-Media partnership will result in another "bust" year for the flu vaccines.

    Many thanks to Mrs.Lujene Clark, President of ( for her research, bringing this to my attention.

    VacLib Editors note: the above referenced article:
    Planning for the 2004-05 Influenza Vaccination Season: A Communication Situation Analysis by Glen Nowak, Ph.D., Associate Director for Communications National Immunization Program, may be found at: pub/upload/mm/36/2004_flu_nowak.pdf

    A more complete version of this article, with footnotes, can be found at:

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