Press Release, August 10, 2015
Vaccine Choice Canada’s original report on Canada’s dual adverse events reporting system was published in April of 2015. This three-part Update Report (pdf) contains new information on the Canada Vigilance Online Adverse Reactions Database for the first quarter of 2015, the Canadian Adverse Events following Immunizations Surveillance System (CAEFISS) database Quarterly Report for Q4 2014 and the latest Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey.
Canada Vigilance Online Database
VCC finds that the Canada Vigilance database, the public’s online source for examining adverse events related to vaccines, continues to dwindle in usefulness. While Health Canada acknowledges that the database “contains only a small portion of adverse reactions reported following receipt of vaccines”, it continues to purport it is a database that is “reflective of serious adverse events reported by manufacturers and distributors of vaccines” (that is, reports from market authorization holders or MAHs as they are designated on the database). In reality the proportion of MAH reported serious adverse events on the database continues to decline, from 87% in Q1 2012 to 63% in Q1 2015. And the serious reports from all sources are down to 50% of all the adverse events on the database.
Filling the database with 50% non-serious reports belies the definition of what the database purports to show and reduces the usefulness of the very small amount of data chosen for public inquiry regarding vaccine-related adverse reactions.
The CAEFISS database is not available for public scrutiny. Instead the public must content themselves with the information released by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in their quarterly reports. The Q4 2014 Quarterly Report shows a decline in reported data due to problems with the conversion to electronic reporting by some provinces. The average number of all reports for 2011-2013 was over 3,500 reports annually. For 2014 this is reduced to 2,408 reports.
However despite fewer total adverse event reports (both serious and non-serious), the percent of serious reports has increased for 2014. Serious reports include patient outcomes of death, life threatening events, hospitalization, or disability. The increase in serious events is especially noticeable in the serious reports for infants under 1 year old and babies under 2 years old. The highest number of serious reports were tagged to pneumococcal C and meningococcal C vaccines, both of which are administered in multiple doses to infants under (or at) 1 year of age. The most common types of adverse events were neurological and immune system disorders.
Overall it is apparent that the Canada Vigilance database yields little useful information for the public due to the quality and the quantity of the spontaneous reporting data chosen for presentation. The CAEFISS database would be more useful if the public had online access to it as it has both an active reporting system from pediatric hospitals and a spontaneous reporting system from provincial and territorial health authorities.
Vaccine Choice Canada continues to recommend that the two databases be combined and made available online to the Canadian Public. This makes both monetary sense and would be in the public interest since transparency regarding adverse events following immunization is purportedly what the surveillance systems are for.
Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey
Regardless of the incoherent data on actual adverse events to which the Canadian public has access, and regardless of the inundation of media stories emanating from industry experts on the unquestioned safety and efficacy of vaccinations, it seems that the public is becoming more aware of these issues.
The recent press release with highlights of the 2013 Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey does not give a true picture of what has happened to immunization coverage in Canada since the last survey.
Vaccine Choice Canada compares the coverage rate for 2 year old children from the 2011 Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey to the data from the 2013 survey in our report. Coverage rates for the vaccines children have received by age 2 have declined by anywhere from 5% to 15% in the two years between the two reports. The exceptions to this decline are the more recently introduced meningococcal C and pneumococcal C vaccines which show an increase in coverage of 8% and 3% respectively. Although this could change as parents become aware of the increased serious adverse events related to these vaccines as discussed in Part 2 of the Summer 2015 Update Report. Health Canada will release a full report on the 2013 childhood coverage survey later in 2015.
The Summer 2015 Update Report is available here (pdf format).
Contact Vaccine Choice Canada