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4.4: Canada Vigilance Program

  • Page ID
    19741
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    Under the Food and Drugs Act (1985) and Regulations, pharmaceutical companies are legally required to report serious adverse reactions related to a vaccine. The Canada Vigilance Program offers oversight after vaccines have been licensed, with systemic safeguards to ensure that vaccines have continued monitoring. The program includes safety reports, surveillance systems, risk management plans, and product risk/benefit assessments.

    Safety Reports

    According to the Food and Drugs Act (1985), pharmaceutical companies are required to prepare an annual report that comprehensively analyzes all adverse drug reactions occurring anywhere in the world. Drug companies are also responsible for notifying Health Canada if they become aware of any significant issues that could affect the benefit-risk profile.

    Canadian Adverse Events Following Immunization Surveillance System (CAEFISS)

    All health professionals must report adverse events following immunization (AEFI) to local authorities, who report to provincial authorities, who in turn report to federal authorities. CAEFISS is responsible for using this information for ongoing safety monitoring and AEFI investigations in Canada. An AEFI may or may not have a causal relationship to the use of the vaccine.

    Evaluation of Vaccines Post-License

    The safety profile of a vaccine is heavily scrutinized before licensure. Rigorous monitoring and evaluation continues once the vaccine is available to the general population to identify potential rare side effects and frequency of adverse events following immunization. This period is often referred to as the post-marketing period because the vaccine continues to be monitored after it is licensed. Table 4.2 outlines the various stages of post-license evaluations.

     

    Table 4.2: Post-License Evaluation Stages

    Life Cycle Phase Regulatory Requirements Description

    Lot release program

     

    Food and Drugs Act and Regulations

     

    Ensures that each marketed lot of vaccine does not differ from vaccine lots shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials.

     

    Establishment inspections

     

    Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, including GMP

     

    Ensures that the facilities in which the product (the active pharmaceutical ingredient) is manufactured are appropriate to the specifications that apply to that product. Generally, inspections occur every two to three years; however, inspections can be more or less frequent depending on the activity and product.

     

    Post-marketing studies

     

    Not required by regulation, but suggested by Health Canada. Researchers may conduct large studies to test causal relationship between a vaccine and adverse events.

     

    Phase IV (≥ 100 thousand subjects). Expand data on vaccine safety profile in target population to identify rare adverse events not detected during pre-marketing phase.

    Assess safety profile in special populations not studied as part of pre-authorization trials (e.g., immunocompromised, diabetics, etc.).

    Study possible interactions with other vaccines.

     

    Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) surveillance systems

     

    Food and Drugs Act and Regulations by market authorization holders. CAEFISS activities are undertaken voluntarily, although some jurisdictions require AEFI reporting as part of public health legislation.

     

    Detect new vaccine safety signals which could be:

    • increased severity or frequency of previously known adverse reactions.
    • unexpected adverse reactions.

    Conduct special investigations to determine root cause of vaccine safety signals.

     

    Studies designed to test hypotheses related to vaccine adverse event association

     

    May be requested by regulators in response to new safety signals.

     

    Test hypothesis that a vaccine can cause an AEFI, including very rare events.

     

     

    AEFIs should be reported:

    • When the event has a temporal association with a vaccine. A causal relationship does not need to be proven before reporting.
    • When the event is serious or unexpected (e.g., life threatening or results in death, requires hospitalization or prolongation of an existing hospitalization, results in residual disability, or causes congenital malformation).
    • If there is any doubt as to whether or not an event should be reported, health professionals should always choose to report the event.

    Table 4.3 is an example of a protocol for reporting adverse events. Each province and territory has their own reporting system outlining local and provincial/territorial activities. It is important that health professionals know what and how to report in their jurisdiction. The Public Health Agency of Canada has a national reporting form that is available. Completed forms are sent to the local public health unit. All reports are eventually reported up to CAEFISS at a national level.

     

    Table 4.3: Adverse Event Type Requiring Reporting

    Adverse Event Type TEMPORAL CRITERIA

    for Non-live vaccines

    TEMPORAL CRITERIA

    for Live vaccines

    Injection Site Reactions

     

    Pain, redness, or swelling lasting 4 days or more OR extending beyond the nearest joint

     

    0 to 48 hours

     

    0 to 48 hours

     

    Infected abscess

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    Sterile abscess

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    Nodule

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    Cellulitis

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    Systemic Reactions

     

    Rash

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    5 to 42 days

     

    Adenopathy/lymphadenopathy

     

    0 to 7 days

     

    5 to 42 days

     

    Severe vomiting/diarrhea

     

    0 to 72 hours

     

    0 to 42 days

     

    Parotitis

     

    N/A

     

    5 to 30 days

     

    Hypotonic-hyporesponsive episode (HHE); under 2 years of age only

     

    0 to 48 hours

     

    0 to 48 hours

     

    Persistent crying/screaming; under 2 years of age only

     

    0 to 72 hours

     

    0 to 72 hours

     

    Allergic reactions

     

    Event managed as anaphylaxis (i.e., epinephrine administered)

     

    0 to 24 hours

     

    0 to 24 hours

     

    Oculorespiratory Syndrome (ORS)

     

    0 to 24 hours

     

    0 to 24 hours

     

    Allergic skin reaction (e.g., hives)

     

    0 to 48 hours

     

    0 to 48 hours

     

    Neurologic events

     

    Convulsions/seizure

     

    0 to 72 hours

     

    5 to 42 days

     

    Encephalopathy/encephalitis

     

    0 to 15 days

     

    5 to 42 days

     

    Meningitis

     

    0 to 15 days

     

    5 to 42 days

     

    Anaesthesia/paraesthesia

     

    0 to 15 days

     

    0 to 42 days

     

    Paralysis

     

    0 to 15 days

     

    5 to 42 days

     

    Myelitis/acute disseminated encephalomyelitis

     

    0 to 15 days

     

    5 to 42 days

     

    Guillian Barré Syndrome (GBS)

     

    1 to 8 weeks

     

    1 to 8 weeks

     

    Bell’s palsy

     

    0 to 3 months

     

    0 to 3 months

     

    Other events of interest

     

    Arthritis/arthralgia

     

    0 to 15 days

     

    1 to 3 weeks

     

    Intussusception

     

    N/A

     

    0 to 42 days

     

    Thrombocytopenia

     

    0 to 30 days

     

    0 to 30 days

     

    Syncope (fainting) with injury

     

    0 to 30 minutes

     

    0 to 30 minutes

     

    Other severe/unusual events

     

    Reportable regardless of timeline

     

    Reportable regardless of timeline

     

     

    As a health professional, it is important to monitor adverse events and follow the steps below:

    Step 1

    • Advise clients to contact you or your team if they experience an adverse event after vaccination.

    Step 2

    • Complete either the local form or the Public Health Agency of Canada form for reporting an AEFI. A user guide is available.
    • Submit the completed form to the local public health unit or consult them if you have any questions.

     

    An interactive or media element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here:
    https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/immunizations/?p=144


    Attribution Statement

    Table 4.3 was adapted with editorial changes from “Adverse Event Following Immunization Reporting for Health Care Providers in Ontario” by Public Health Ontario. Contact the copyright holder for appropriate permission.

     


    This page titled 4.4: Canada Vigilance Program is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Oona St-Amant, Jennifer Lapum, Vinita Dubey, Karen Beckermann, Che-Sheu Huang, Carly Weeks, Kate Leslie, and Kim English (ecampus Onterio) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.