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 ( 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 ( is a governmental page (I think) that has a bit of a bias toward promoting immunization.

Institute for vaccine safety ( 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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