App could provide new way to track vaccine safety


Canadian researchers launch pilot study of CANImmunize for tracking adverse events related to flu vaccine


Credit: Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Vaccines are one of society’s greatest success stories, but like any treatment, there can be rare adverse events and they must be tested carefully. With a massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign on the horizon, Canadian researchers have launched a pilot study that could lead to a new approach for tracking vaccine safety.

The approach allows individual Canadians to report vaccine-related adverse events using the award-winning CANImmunize app and digital platform. CANImmunize was launched by researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa in 2011 and became a startup company in 2019.

CANImmunize’s vaccine safety reporting feature is now being tested as part of flu vaccine campaigns at The Ottawa Hospital and the Family Immunization Clinic at BC Children’s Hospital. Individuals who agree to participate in the study will be randomly assigned to report any adverse events using CANImmunize or the traditional online survey.

The study is a partnership with the Canadian Immunization Research Network’s Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network (CANVAS). It is funded by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund and The Ottawa Hospital Academic Medical Association (TOHAMO). CANImmunize provided in-kind support. The research team includes Katherine Atkinson, Dr. Julie Bettinger, Dr. Dean Fergusson, Dr. Alan Forster, Dr. Doug Manuel, Dr. Anne McCarthy and Dr. Kumanan Wilson.


“CANVAS plays an important role in monitoring the safety of the annual flu vaccine,” said Dr. Julie Bettinger, lead investigator at CANVAS, investigator at BC Children’s Hospital and associate professor in the UBC Department of Pediatrics. “We are excited to explore this innovative method of expanding the reach of CANVAS using the CANImmunize platform.”

“A COVID-19 vaccine may be on the way! Tracking the safety of the vaccine will be an important part of the roll-out,” said Dr. Kumanan Wilson, founder of CANImmunize, senior physician scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa. “CANImmunize working with CANVAS could provide a unique digital solution to help monitor the safety of a new vaccine.”


About the partners

The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s top learning and research hospitals, where excellent care is inspired by research and driven by compassion. As the third-largest employer in Ottawa, our support staff, researchers, nurses, physicians, and volunteers never stop seeking solutions to the most complex health-care challenges. Our multi-campus hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, attracts some of the most influential scientific minds from around the world. Backed by generous support from the community, we are committed to providing the world-class, compassionate care we would want for our loved ones.

BC Children’s Hospital, a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority provides expert care for the province’s most seriously ill or injured children, youth and young adults, including newborns. Child and Youth Mental Health provides a diverse range of specialized and one-of-a-kind tertiary mental health and substance use services for children, adolescents and young adults across the province. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @BCChildrensHosp.

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.

The Canadian Immunization Network’s Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network (CANVAS) has been using participant centered reporting to monitor the safety of pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines since 2019.

CANImmunize is a pan-Canadian digital immunization tracking system that empowers Canadians to keep track of their vaccinations through a mobile app and web-based portal. CANImmunize also offers digital solutions to government partners to help modernize the immunization system and to businesses and hospitals, with a commitment to maintaining the highest privacy standards.

Media Contact
Jenn Ganton
[email protected]

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