The VSRG’s mandate

The Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group (VSRG) supports the monitoring of the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada.

Reporting to the President of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and in collaboration with the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN), the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), and the federal, provincial and territorial governments, the VSRG is independent of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) but is supported by its Secretariat.


  • Funds teams that can address important aspects of the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines with public health relevance and with attention to all priority groups including Indigenous persons;
  • Curates a list of priority issues and questions related to COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness;
  • Inventories existing resources and networks that have the capacity and mandate to monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness, and supports them to increase the scope and scale of their activities to more comprehensively and quickly monitor the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines; and
  • Identifies specific issues in vaccine surveillance, based on the inventory, and helps to develop and support additional surveillance initiatives to address these gaps in coordination with the provinces and territories.

Review Process

The VSRG will review proposals for vaccine safety and effectiveness studies in association with its two Working Groups. Once proposals pass initial selection, they are sent out for external review, before returning to the VSRG which makes a recommendation to the CITF’s Executive Committee (EC). The CITF’s EC will function as an arm’s-length audit/finance committee to ensure that due diligence has been done when the VSRG draws on public funds, as they come from the CITF’s budget. The CITF EC will then recommend studies for approval by PHAC for financing.
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Photo of Caroline Quach-Thanh

Caroline Quach Thanh

Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, CHU Ste-Justine, Université de Montréal

Former Chair, National Advisory Committee on Immunization

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Photo of Scott Halperin

Scott Halperin

Professor, Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology, Division of Infectious Diseases, IWK Health Centre, Dalhousie University

Principal Investigator, Canadian Immunization Research Network

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Catherine Hankins

Professor of Public and Population Health, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

Co-Chair, COVID-19 Immunity Task Force

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David Naylor

Professor of Medicine and President Emeritus, University of Toronto

Co-Chair, COVID-19 Immunity Task Force

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Photo of Timothy Evans

Timothy Evans

Professor, Director and Associate Dean of the School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

Executive Director, COVID-19 Immunity Task Force

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Photo of Mel Krajden

Mel Krajden

Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of British Columbia

Medical Director, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory

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Shelley Deeks

Surveillance Medical Officer of Health, Department of Health and Wellness, Nova Scotia Public Health

Chair, National Advisory Committee on Immunization

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Ex-Officio Members

Evan Adams

Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Public Health, Indigenous Services Canada

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Kim Elmslie

Kim Elmslie

Vice President, Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada

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Kelly Robinson

Director General, Health Canada

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Karina Top

*Chair of VSRG Working Group on Vaccine Safety

Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, Dalhousie University

Co-Investigator, Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network (CANVAS)

Full bio

Jeff Kwong

*Chair of VSRG Working Group on Vaccines Effectiveness

Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Scientist, Public Health Ontario (PHO)

Full bio

Vaccine Safety Working Group Members

Karina Top (chair)
Julie Bettinger
Deshayne Fell
James D. Kellner
Monika Naus
Sarah Wilson

Vaccine Effectiveness Working Group Members

Jeff Kwong (chair)
Lisa Belzak
Shelly Bolotin
Nicholas Brousseau
Julie Laroche
Shelly McNeil
Gina Ogilvie
Elia Palladino
Manish Sadarangani
Danuta Skowronski