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Consumer Reports Vaccine Rating Scale

Consumer ReportsBy Cathy Jameson

Consumer Reports magazine was a go-to resource for my parents when I was growing up.  Cars, household appliances and electronic equipment, my parents relied on having that subscription to research big-dollar items they were preparing to purchase.  I haven’t had the need to read or to buy my own subscription to Consumer Reports, so color me shocked and appalled when I stumbled upon a link for an article about vaccines  on an autism listserv I belong.

When I read the article, my jaw dropped.  I had no idea that Consumer Reports was in cahoots with, and apparently a mouthpiece for, the vaccine industry.  Not only are they a mouthpiece, in other articles on their website they’re promoting exactly which vaccines they think certain groups need and discuss where to get them.  

Last I checked, vaccines were not 100% free of problems. Too bad Consumer Reports hasn’t done as thorough a review of vaccines like they tend to do with other products.  With how many vaccines have caused adverse reactions, a publicly shared consumer-based rating report would most certainly be beneficial.

For years now I’ve wonder if anyone has made a vaccine rating scale, similar to a scale that Consumer Reports uses.  From what I remember when I read the magazine as a youngster, I recall that they did a good job showcasing all there was to know about a product.  Testing products on a variety of features, readers relied on ratings of how well or how poorly the product did.  Using red and black symbols with distinct shadings and markings correlating to a product’s performance, one could quickly assess the performance level while also note the pros and cons of what had been evaluated.  Even as a child, looking at the charts I could quickly see which items were well made and which ones were less than desirable.  We need something like that for vaccines, too. 

Just like many items found on the pages in Consumers Report, vaccines are advertised and put on the market to be sold.  They are products.  Sure, the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System (VAERS)  provides some statistics for some vaccine products, but that is if the vaccine injury is believed and documented in the medical file, and if it is reported to VAERS by the medical provider.  Unless someone is very familiar with vaccine injury, most people I talk to have never heard of VAERS. 

So, what can be done?  Consumer Reports obviously needs to hear the other side of the story even if the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), a group cited at the end of that link, might be adding to what Consumer Reports is reporting.  That group, believing nothing of the vaccine-autism connection, plays down the reality of what many of our children have gone through.  Consumer Reports, in another article they’ve written about vaccines, state that side effects are uncommon at best.  Ludicrous, I know, but that’s why we must respond.  We must because the claims that the IAC, and now Consumer Reports, make do nothing to fully inform buyers as I believe is, or at least was when I was growing up, a major part of Consumer Report’s mission. 

A scale with the same type of visual image, used to rate the effectiveness of a vaccine, from Better to Worse, to include if any sort of vaccine injury has been associated with it, could be done.  It won’t be as pretty as Consumer Report’s system (there’s only so much we can show in our comments here on the page), but we can start our own ratings here today.  

But first, before rating the vaccine(s), please think about these questions.  These are the questions that could help current or future vaccine consumers.  These are also the types of questions I wish I’d been asked had I realized that I and my children were not just patients but were in fact vaccine consumers. 

-Would I buy this shot if my doctor didn’t say I need it? 

-Would I research it like I would that big screen TV (or computer, car, barbeque, etc.) that I just plunked down hundreds of dollars? 

-Would I take a few days to mull over the pros and cons and the long-term effects of vaccines if I knew there were pros and cons and long-term effects to consider? 

-Would I ask for a guarantee or warranty of the vaccine(s) like I expect to be given by the manufacturer from other products I purchase?

-Would I be able to walk away completely satisfied with my vaccine purchase(s) knowing that ultimately, due to fact that the pharmaceutical companies are protected by law from any responsibility, I am on my own should any complications or reactions result from vaccination(s)?

I highly doubt any one of us here were approached by our medical providers with such detailed answers as former vaccine consumers which is why it is imperative that we continue to state what we know can happen when others are opting for vaccines.  Experience, our experience, should account for something even if it was a bad experience.  We may have failed to protect our children once with products like vaccines, but we can be assured it will never unknowingly happen again. 

With that being said, can you imagine if enough people read our comments and understood the important information we’re offering in a visual format like that of the rating scale similar to the one Consumer Reports boasts?   

CJ vaccine comsumer ratings

So, why not?

In the comments below, we can state which vaccines we or our child(ren) received.  We can say if a reaction happened and what type of reaction it was.  Because each reaction is unique to the individual, using the scale above, state what the reaction was, and then tell if it was mild, moderate or severe.  Include if the vaccinations contributed to, resulted in or caused autism or lead to other medical issues.  Add if you or our children have been diagnosed from secondary illnesses due to vaccine side effects.  Remember that not everyone reading the comments will have opted for vaccines yet, so details can help while they weigh the pros and cons of their decision. 

Will these comments prove anything?  Yes.  I think they will.  In continuing to discuss them we once again band together as a group.  We once again reveal what’s been covered up.  We once again stand up, speak up and let our voices be heard.  There’s enough of us now who, from experience, can offer a thorough rating of the vaccine schedule. 

Now that I’m the adult making big purchases for my own family, I too check out reviews of products and services just like my parents did.  I do my research online and also go in person to check out companies and products being offered.  I prefer to seek out the ones who aren’t trying to push me to buy something, but instead walk me through my options.  I steer clear of the ones who are more concerned about the sell.   I support those who take time to educate me.  I prefer groups and services that are up front and honest which means, I certainly won’t go to places like Consumer Reports for information from now on.  I can’t.  And I won’t.  Not when they promote vaccines while catering to groups that dismiss families and experiences such as mine.

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.


Paper Dolly

I am sickened by Consumer Reports vaccine article. We have received this magazine for years, and usually I would refer to them when buying a specific item. I had no idea they were "advertising" for the vaccine industry. Because basically that is what this is, advertising. No studies, as their other products supposedly have had. It makes me wonder what other products they have not researched, or tested, but rather "advertised".


Interesting what one finds on IAC website "about us" page.

This website is supported in part by a cooperative agreement from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (Grant No. 5U38IP000290) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. The website content is the sole responsibility of IAC and does not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.

FDA spies on whistleblowers

Republican Darrell Issa leading the charge on this issue. Well we know what party seems to care slightly more about health...

FDA spies on whistleblowers

Anne, very interesting story about your son's history and how you helped bring him back from the brink of autism. Nowadays, the frightening thing is that your family might have been BCH'd with the route that you took.
I think the update on this family is instructive- the father finally went against the gag orders and this pressure is what broke the case. Don't let them silence you!!! We can win.

FDA spies on whistleblowers

FDA spies on whistle blowers to protect Big Pharma. We can expect nothing less these days. Obama, do you care?

Carolyn Flannery

In march 2001 the cover story for consumer reports recommended making sure you did not get a shot that had mercury in it as they might still be on the shelves . The accompanying story detailed why mercury was harmful. I know because my son was born march 2001 and we asked our dr if the shots had mercury due to that article. They patronized us and laughed that we should think they would give out baby a shot with mercury. How absurd. But they did not show us the ingredients or the insert. We trusted them since they apparently acknowledged the danger.

Consumer Reports had you continued honestly you could have saved a decade of children from autism, asthma, add, ADHD, and SIDS.

What happened to truth? What happened to your integrity?


I'm glad that you wrote this. I've also been upset with Consumer Reports over their lack of focus on vaccines. I didn't even realize that they have been pushing them. Months ago, Consumer Reports sent out a survey asking people what bothered them in the marketplace. I thought back then that we ought to all write to them to let them know that the way that drugs, especially vaccines, are forced on the public with inadequate safety testing acknowledged in Congressional hearings over several years, with no subsequent corrective action, inappropriate marketing and, lack of informed consent, a move for mandates of whatever vaccines Pharma produces, is THE major consumer issue of our time. Sidney Wolfe's Public Citizen also, as far as I know, doesn't touch vaccination, while rating all other drugs for safety and efficacy. Public Citizen is already on Pharma and the FDA's tails. It's something to see that they don't venture into vaccine land. No one dares to go there publicly, except the few bravest among us.

Seriously, maybe what we should do is start a letter writing campaign to both organizations to ask them why they don't evaluate vaccines, why they have stood by while this industry has grown unquestioned and unchecked by consumer advocacy organizations while our morbidity and mortality rates at the same time skyrocket.


The shot reaction rating chart is a useful tool that should be employed and dispersed far and wide. Hep B, DTaP and MMR vaccines gave the worst reactions for us.

Media communications on vaccines and autism are a litmus test for assessing organizations' fairness and objectivity. Representatives and reporters inadvertently reveal their blind spots and biases -- ultimately their lack of integrity in journalistic investigation and scientific research.

Funny how a clearinghouse like Consumer Reports can take on PR profiteers like the American Council on Science and Health, but they're an easy target.

Jeannette Bishop

I've been thinking we might find a consumer-reports-type private monitoring of vaccination and other medical practices (and hospitals, clinics, practitioners) for effectiveness, research quality, and safety beneficial, but obviously (as Consumer Reports now demonstrates) any such effort could be subject to the same capture our government agencies have been subjected to.

But if there was, as you recommend, in the general public the same attitude of vigilance (and an assumption of their personal authority) over "healthcare purchases," an awareness that such is necessary, that would likely create a market for honest independent monitoring services. We might even obtain a regulation, if we have competing services somewhat like Consumer Reports, that is more accountable (consumers purchasing the information that is most helpful for them) than what we get through our federal agencies as the public funding for these agencies is essentially guaranteed no matter what their performance (while industry still buys what it can).

Maybe we could also obtain a system with incentive to provide individually tailored healthcare choices more as a matter of course as well as better safety research and monitoring.

Right now a consumer health products report, for vaccines particularly, would by and large contain category entries (type of adjuvants, other ingredients, dosing, risk of overdose or dose variation, evaluation of synergy, relative risk to adverse disease outcomes, long-term efficacy, all short and long term side effects...) with words like "untested" or "inadequate research available for evaluation" or "undisclosed, proprietary information" filling the pages, though a general public awareness of an adverse reporting venue might make for more informative reading. This state of things suggests to me that possibly only fear of disease and ignorance, not actual performance nor a good understanding of vaccine performance history, are what it takes to sell vaccination, and so, such a private reporting venture might only last short-term or might have to change with, hopefully, a radically changing approach to disease prevention and management, but I can't see that possibility as lamentable.

Cynthia Cournoyer

Makes you doubt everything Consumer Reports stands for. I thought they didn't take ad money from people who manufacture products.

Let's look at the bright side. At least they are thinking of us as consumers! If they have an article in their magazine then it presupposes that we have the choice whether or not to consume them!

cia parker

Do you have a link on who to write to or where to comment on this article?

Not an MD

Consumer Reports once actually promoted flu vaccines. After that issue, we stopped our ages old subscription to Consumer Reports. One less customer for them. I wonder how many other magazine or online subscribers they lost after making such a blatant choice to support an industry, when they are supposed to be completely independent of such industry influence? Obviously, Consumer Reports is not about the consumer after all, and their promotion of the products (in this case, vaccines) of an industry sans consumer input is proof absolute of that.

Too bad. Bye-bye, forever, Consumer Reports. You are a sad, sad sham!


My son was hospitalized for a week after his first HEP B shot, but I didn't make the vaccine connection until many years later. He was initially a healthy, very sweet, calm baby, but gradually changed after each round of vaccines. He developed exema and light sensitivity initially. After his first MMR he started projectile vomiting (doctors attributed this to "anxiety" for lack of any other ideas) and toe walking. Mood become angry, and he lost eye contact. His eye contact used to be fine. We used to joke about how intently he would gaze into my eyes, and his eyes used to follow me around the room wherever I was. After his 2nd MMR before preschool, he, no longer wanted to be held/cuddled, began running in circles, went to the bathroom literally every 5 minutes, started wetting the bed again, couldn't tolerate normal everyday noise anymore (an airplane overhead would send him to the floor screaming and covering his ears). There were too many more symptoms to list here. Long story short, he has completely recovered. He is a junior in high school and plays on the varsity soocer team and runs cross country. He's preparing to go to college for computer programming. He still does struggle with some social skills issues, GI problems and anxiety, so we have recently run a methylation test DNA test to fine tune what we hope will be the final step on this long journey to recovery. Our pediatrician was ZERO help, only wanting to prescribe anti anxiety meds or Ritalin type drugs. We owe his recovery to complimentary medical practitioners who used things like chelation for mercury and lead (he was born in the mid-90's. His mercury levels were sky high. Only likely source was from my amalgam fillings and his childhood vaccines), dietary changes, targeted supplements, and the wonderful work of the brilliant Dr. Wakefield. My son was not a patient of his, but I read his research and attended several conferences where he was speaking. Iit was his work that eventually guided us to treatments that actually worked to end the severe GI distress that two of my children suffered terribly from for years It truly pains me deeply when I read untrue accusations about Dr. Wakefield in newspapers, as he's a true hero to our family. I'm guessing there is such a backlash against vaccine safety advocates going on right now because the truth is finally getting out there. Vaccines are simply NOT as safe as we've been led to believe, and we now have so many children effected by adverse vaccine reactions, it's getting increasingly more difficult for the government to just explain them away. The "better diagnosis" theory is ridiculous and everyone knows it. Time to acknowledge the damage and provide the treatment these kids deserve!
I'm a healthcare professional myself, and when I graduated from school, I was told I would likely never encounter a child with autism! These kids have NOT always been here in these numbers, just diagnosed as something else. There is something "new" going wrong with children's health in the last two decades.

tara mcmillan

My son received a hepatitis B shot three times. Each time he got the shot, he was lethargic. He had a high fever, he had diarrhea. He was a zombie. He had his next set of shots at 17 months of age, for which he had encephalitis, but NO ONE caught it. Not even the doctors. My son had horrible bleeding eyebrows. The eczema was bad. He had red cheeks. He didn't learn to walk till 20 months because of the hypotonia. He was struggling. He is now recovering ( slowly) from brain injury caused by too many vaccines. Just the one shot of hep b should have told me that he shouldn't get vaccines...but I didn't know what to look for... I didn't know he was living thru an injury.

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