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Public Health Ontario releases Annual Report on Vaccine Safety in Ontario, 2013

​Vaccines are safe and adverse reactions are rare

Toronto, ON, January 19, 2015 – Vaccines are safe and have a low risk of adverse reactions, according to results published in Public Health Ontario’s 2013 Annual Report on Vaccine Safety in Ontario.

Of the 8.2 million doses of vaccine distributed in Ontario in 2013, 642 adverse reactions were recorded.  Of those, only 27 cases were considered serious—3.3 in every one million doses distributed.

“Vaccines save lives and are safe,” said Dr. Shelley Deeks, Public Health Ontario’s Medical Director of Immunization and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. “The risk of an adverse reaction to a vaccine is small, and serious reactions are very rare. Monitoring vaccine safety helps us know that the risks are very low compared to the risks from the dangerous diseases they prevent.”  

The majority of the 642 adverse reactions were mild, such as pain, redness, or swelling around the injection site, rashes and a smaller number of fevers. 

“Immunization has saved more lives in Canada in the last 50 years than any other health care intervention and the safety of vaccines is a top priority for Ontario, which is why the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care works with Public Health Ontario to monitor and report adverse events,” said Dr. David Mowat, Interim Chief Medical Officer of Health. “All vaccines are carefully tested and monitored for safety and effectiveness. Ontarians should be confident vaccines not only protect them from serious diseases, but are safe and have a low risk for adverse events.”

Quick Facts:

  • An adverse reaction or event is an unwanted or unexpected health effect that happens after someone is vaccinated. It may or may not be caused by the vaccine.
  • Most reported events were mild, including sore arm, rash and fever.
  • In Canada, vaccines are closely monitored by governments and manufacturers. Part of that monitoring occurs when adverse reactions are reported by Ontario health professionals, patients or their families to public health units. Public Health Ontario tracks and analyzes information submitted by public health units, as part of a global surveillance system that includes the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.
  • Serious events include febrile seizures, cellulitis and anaphylaxis, which occur very rarely and in the vast majority of cases can be treated successfully.

The Annual Report on Vaccine Safety in Ontario, 2013, is available at:

Public Health Ontario is a Crown corporation dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of all Ontarians and reducing inequities in health. Public Health Ontario links public health practitioners, front-line health workers and researchers to the best scientific intelligence and knowledge from around the world. For more information, visit

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For media inquiries, please contact:
Michael Gibbs
Public Health Ontario

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Page last updated: 2015-01-19 12:10 PM
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