Canada introduces national compensation program for vaccine injuries ahead of pandemic vaccine rollout

People who are vaccinated to protect themselves against COVID-19 and experience an adverse event after the immunization will be eligible for compensation, the federal government says. 

The announcement of the no-fault program is part of Canada’s preparations to roll out coronavirus vaccines, beginning with the Pfizer-BioNtech version that will start to be administered next week. 

Health Canada says it approves vaccines after its thorough review of scientific evidence shows that the benefits outweigh the risks.

“Canadians can have confidence in the rigour of the vaccine approvals system, however, in the rare event that a person experiences an adverse reaction, this program will help ensure they get the support they need,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement on Thursday. 

All medications and vaccines can lead to side effects and reactions.

Common and mild ones such as fever, aches and pains are evidence of your immune system being activated as planned and is working to build up immunity, infectious disease physicians say.

In contrast, the federal government said that the chances of someone experiencing a truly serious adverse reaction are “extremely rare — less than one in a million.”

Program covers all Health Canada-approved vaccines 

Earlier this week, U.K. regulators temporarily paused delivery of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to people with a history of anaphylaxis after two adverse events occurred among health-care workers with such a history.

Both carried auto-injectors, received the vaccine, experienced adverse events, were treated immediately and recovered. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada is introducing the no-fault vaccine injury support program for all vaccines approved by Health Canada, including coronavirus vaccines.

Quebec has had a similar model for 30 years to ensure support for those who experience a rare, adverse event after an immunization. 

More than 20 countries around the world have national vaccine injury support programs for routine immunizations, including all other G7 countries.

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