General Information about Vaccines in Canada –

I have a good friend who is currently debating whether or not she should have her child immunized. It’s hard for me to rationally debate this with her because I have such a bias for immunization, but I do respect her need to weigh the options before making a decision. While talking to her about vaccines in Canada I found it a good exercise to compile a couple of quick points regarding safety and monitoring for her information as well as mine. I’ve coupled these with a few patient education websites for further clarification and included these below. I hope if you have similar questions, or know of someone who does, that you find this helpful.

1. How are vaccines approved for use in Canada?

– The biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate (BGTD), i.e. Health Canada, regulates vaccines for human use in Canada

– To be approved, vaccines must meet acceptable standards of production, safety and potency

– BGTD is also involved in post-marketing surveillance of vaccine safety.

2. Who recommends what vaccines for use?

A. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization

– which is a multidisciplinary expert group which makes recommendations to the federal minister of health

– All recommendations are published every 4 years in the Canadian Immunization Guide (latest edition was this year – 2006)

B. Provinces and Territories

– Use the NACI recommendations to develop immunization programs

C. Canadian Pediatric Society

– Also has some say in the process, but what exactly I’m not sure

3. Who monitors vaccine safety?

A. IMPACT – Immunization Monitoring program, ACTive

B. CPSP – Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program

C. ACCA – Advisory Committee on Causality Assessment – Reviews all reported cases of serious adverse events

D. Global advisory committee on vaccine safety – run by the World Health Organization

4. Resources

Here are some good websites which advocate immunizations but which do so in an informative manner.

Parents of kids with infectious diseases (http://www.pkids.org/about_pkids.php) is a non-profit organization which is comprised mostly of parents with children infected with Hep B, C and HIV. Though they seem to be pro-immunization they appear to be interested in public education more than pushing vaccines.

Caring for kids (http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/) is a governmental page (I think) that has a bit of a bias toward promoting immunization.

Institute for vaccine safety (http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/) is an independent watchdog group which “provide[s] an independent assessment of vaccines and vaccine safety to help guide decision makers and educate physicians, the public and the media about key issues surrounding the safety of vaccines .”

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