Many Canadians have had friends and family members recount unpleasant symptoms following their COVID-19 vaccine. Stories regarding flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches are common. While these symptoms are not a cause for concern, there are rare cases where individuals suffer more serious symptoms following their vaccination. But what recourse is available who suffer from serious symptoms post-vaccination (whether COVID-19 or otherwise)? 

This article is not intended to frighten Canadians who have been or are considering being vaccinated or to provide a stance on the COVID-19 vaccine. Rather, we are providing information on the remedies available to the rare few who, unfortunately, suffer from serious adverse effects following their COVID-19 vaccine. 

Are Adverse Reactions to COVID-19 Vaccines Common? 

As of October 1, 2021, Health Canada has received 17,982 reports of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. Of the 17,982 reports, 4,675 were considered “serious” (8.4 reports per 100,000 doses administered). 

Reported adverse effects were highest among the 40 to 49 year age group, followed by those in the 50 to 59 year age group. 

The most frequently reported adverse events were tingling or prickling, vaccination site pain, headache, itching, labored breathing, fatigue, vaccination site redness, hives, nausea, and numbness. 

What Resources Are Available For COVID-19 Vaccine Injuries in Canada? 

In Canada (with the exception of Quebec, which has its own program), individuals who suffer certain adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccine are entitled to compensation through the Vaccine Injury Support Program (VISP). VISP is designed to “ensure that all people in Canada who have experienced a serious and permanent injury as a result of receiving a Health Canada authorized vaccine … have fair and timely access to financial support.” 

Eligibility for Compensation through the Vaccine Injury Support Program 

To apply for support through VISP, claimants must meet the following qualifications

  • the vaccine in question must have been authorized by Health Canada; 
  • claims must be filed within three years after the date of vaccination, date of death, or date when the injury first becomes apparent; 
  • the claimant must have reported their injury to a health care provider; 
  • the vaccination must have been administered in Canada on or after December 8, 2020; and
  • the resulting injury must be “serious or permanent” or have resulted in death. 

A committee of three physicians will review the claimant’s application (including medical records) to determine whether a “probable link” exists between the injury and the vaccine. If a claimant wants to appeal a decision, an appeals process exists to review previous decisions regarding eligibility. 

What Does “Serious and Permanent” Injury Mean? 

To be considered “serious and permanent”, a vaccination-related injury must be “a severe, life-threatening or life-altering injury that may require in-person hospitalization, or a prolongation of existing hospitalization and results in persistent or significant disability or incapacity, or where the outcome is a congenital malformation or death.” No public decisions have been released that provide guidance relating to how this definition will be interpreted; however, it is clear that the bar has been set high for prospective claimants. 

Amount of Compensation through the Vaccine Injury Support Program

If an individual is eligible for compensation through VISP, they may be entitled to:

  • income replacement indemnities; 
  • injury indemnities; 
  • death benefits; 
  • coverage for funeral expenses; and
  • reimbursement of eligible costs (such as otherwise uncovered medical expenses). 

The amount of financial support is determined on a case-by-case basis and based on a pre-determined financial support payment framework. 

What VISP Means for Personal Injury Claimants

While serious COVID-19 vaccine reactions are uncommon, there are rare circumstances wherein individuals experience serious symptoms. Indeed, many routine medical procedures can result in serious symptoms, and when the unexpected happens it can result in devastating outcomes for patients. VISP exists to provide financial compensation for claimants who have suffered serious adverse effects from a vaccine – while such events are rare, they are a topical reminder that there are avenues of recovery for those who have been injured due to adverse reactions or outright medical negligence. Whether you require a helping hand as you navigate the VISP application process or have suffered negligence at the hands of a medical professional, it is important to speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer for guidance on moving forward. 

Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Eastern Ontario and North Bay

At Tierney Stauffer LLP, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe in fighting for your rights. If you have had an adverse medical reaction, we can provide you with the information you need to move forward and, if you have a case against an individual or other organization, the fearless legal representation you need to obtain the best possible resolution. 

We recognize that no two claims are the same, which is why we give each client the personalized attention needed to bring about the best possible resolution. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers


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