Bioethics Blogs

Canadians Need Vaccine Injury Compensation

Angel Petropanagos and Bob Martin, a survivor of Guillain–Barré syndrome, explain the need for a Canadian vaccine injury compensation program.


In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations recommends that healthy adults and children receive annual influenza vaccinations. Each year, approximately one third of Canadians (ages 12 and up) receive the influenza vaccination. For the most part, vaccination is a safe and effective way of preventing the spread of infectious diseases, such as influenza. However, adverse events are a risk of vaccination. Bob Martin, a survivor of a vaccine-related injury knows this first hand.

In 2010 Bob received the H1N1 flu shot (influenza vaccination) and developed Guillain–Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that effects about one in a million people who are vaccinated. While most G20 countries have a vaccine injury compensation program for individuals who are harmed after receiving routine vaccinations, Bob quickly learned that Quebec is the only Canadian province that offers compensation.

H1N1 influenza virus

Here’s Bob’s story:

One week after H1N1 vaccination in the Fall of 2010 I developed a fever and had difficulty swallowing. My balance was compromised. On November 1st I experienced some stiffness in my legs. By the next morning both of my legs were numb and tingling. I had trouble balancing and could not stand. I was rushed to the hospital and doctors assessed me as suffering from Guillain–Barré syndrome. They immediately began an intravenous immunoglobulin treatment in an attempt to reverse the syndrome. But, my condition worsened; paralysis began to set in and I developed respiratory problems. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.