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Federal government to create ‘pan-Canadian’ vaccine injury support program

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A new support program aimed at supporting Canadians experiencing a vaccine injury is now being developed, according to the federal government.

The program, which was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, comes ahead of the country’s rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech novel coronavirus vaccine which is slated to begin next week.

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“Vaccines are safe and effective” said Trudeau during a press conference Thursday evening.

“Serious side effects are incredibly rare and in the very unlikely event of an adverse reaction though, we want to make to make sure Canadians have fair access to support, so today I can announce we’re creating a federal support program around vaccine safety for all Canadians and for all vaccines — this includes COVID-19 vaccines that will be rolled out soon.”

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The new program also comes amid repeated assurances from Canadian health officials and experts reiterating the safety of vaccines, as well as the rigorous testing done by Health Canada.

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Though it is still possible for someone to have an adverse reaction to a vaccine, the chances of having one is considered “less than one in a million,” according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“After being vaccinated, it’s common to have mild and harmless side effects — this is the body’s natural response, as it’s working to build immunity against a disease. However, it is also possible for someone to have a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine,” read a statement from the agency.

Read more: Canada monitoring Pfizer vaccine after U.K. allergic reactions

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“The chances of this are extremely rare — less than one in a million — and we have a duty to help if this occurs.”

The new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved Wednesday by Health Canada, and is scheduled to begin rolling out to priority groups “within days,” according to government officials.

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The vaccine has already started to be rolled out in the U.K. earlier this week. The country hasn’t seen any significant effects so far from the vaccine, aside from several reports of allergic reactions to it.

During the vaccine trials, of which there were 44,000 participants, only two had displayed severe allergic reactions — one from a group that was administered the vaccine and another that received a placebo, according to Health Canada.

“So it wasn’t a significant finding in the trials. However, we know that with all vaccines there’s a risk of allergic reactions,” said Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical advisor with the regulatory branch of Health Canada on Wednesday.

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Health experts have also said that it isn’t uncommon for vaccines or drugs to result in side effects.

“This is normal. There’s nothing alarming,” said Levon Abrahamyan, a virologist at the University of Montreal.

“Any vaccine…. can cause some allergic reactions for a few people. The issue is what is the percentage.”

With files from Global News’ Saba Aziz 

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