Document name
Communicable Diseases – Adverse Reactions to Immunization
Document number
PRO 08/2021

Effective date: July 1, 2021

Approved date: July 4, 2021

Application: Applies to all injury claims submitted on or after the effective date for adverse reactions to a vaccination.

Policy subject: Decision making - Injuries

Purpose:

To provide supplementary adjudicative advice when applying POL and PRO 02/2010, Communicable Diseases.

DEFINITION

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In accordance with POL 02/2010, Injuries – Communicable Diseases, the following definitions apply.

Compulsory immunization (i.e., vaccination) means that a worker is required, either directly or indirectly, by the employer to be immunized. An example of an indirect requirement is where an unimmunized worker is directed by the employer that they are not allowed to work (with no pay) in the event of a communicable disease of pandemic proportions.

Voluntary immunization (i.e., vaccination) means an immunization that is provided by the employer as part of a broad program, and is received on a voluntary basis by the worker. Voluntary immunization is not a condition of employment.

BACKGROUND

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  1. In accordance with POL 02/2010, Injuries – Communicable Diseases:
    1. Where immunization is required by the employer for the prevention of a communicable disease, and as a result of an adverse reaction (e.g., allergic) to this compulsory immunization the worker is medically required to be absent from employment, the WCB will consider the reaction and its consequences to be compensable.
    2. Where the employer provides voluntary immunizations as part of a broad program, but does not require workers to be immunized as a condition of employment, the WCB will consider any adverse reaction to voluntary immunizations as non-work-related. Therefore, any injury resulting from voluntary immunization is not compensable.
  2. While the WCB does not assume any responsibility for a worker’s pre-existing condition, the WCB will determine if a work-related injury resulted in either an aggravation or acceleration of a worker’s pre-existing condition (Section 49).
  3. Vaccine recipients who show signs of an adverse reaction to any vaccination should report reactions to their immunization provider and/or health care provider.

PROCEDURE

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  1. In accordance with POL 02/2010, Injuries – Communicable Diseases, an adverse reaction from receiving a vaccination for a communicable disease will be considered to have arisen out of and in the course of employment if:
    1. The vaccination was a compulsory (i.e., mandatory) requirement or condition of the worker’s employment, and
    2. The worker’s injury or death was a result of the compulsory vaccination.
  2. If a claim is submitted for an adverse reaction, injury or death from a vaccination, what does WCB consider when determining entitlement?
    1. WCB staff review each claim on its own merits to determine whether an injury occurred and if it arose out of and in the course of employment.
    2. WCB staff will collect all available information, which will include:
      1. Reviewing medical reports to confirm that an injury has occurred and the medical diagnosis is consistent with the injury reported.
      2. Confirming with the health care provider that the adverse reaction required medical treatment or imposed medical restrictions preventing the worker from returning to work (i.e., that the worker cannot functionally perform their job duties given the medical restrictions).
      3. Confirming details of the injury with the employer and worker, which will include determining if the vaccination was a compulsory (i.e., mandatory) requirement or condition of the worker’s employment.
      4. Requesting any additional information that may be considered relevant.
    3. If there is any dispute as to whether the vaccination was compulsory or voluntary, WCB staff will consider all of the evidence to determine if the vaccination was an implied requirement of employment.

Compulsory Vaccinations

  1. In what situations does WCB consider a vaccination to be compulsory, either directly or indirectly?
    1. In accordance with POL 02/2010, Communicable Disease, WCB staff will consider a vaccination as compulsory and required by employment if it meets one of the following criteria:
      1. The employer requires workers to be vaccinated, either as a condition of their employment or as a condition of continued employment.
        Examples include, but are not limited to:
        1. The worker is advised by the employer that they cannot work unless they have the vaccination.
        2. The worker is required to be vaccinated as directed through employer policy, the employer’s human resource guidelines, employment contracts, or collective bargaining agreements.
        3. The worker has contracted a communicable disease outside the work environment and the employer requires precautionary measures be taken (i.e., worker to be vaccinated) before the worker can return to employment.
      2. Although the employer has advised that the vaccination is not a condition of employment, without the vaccination, employment restrictions would be imposed on the worker, unless they are vaccinated.
        Examples include, but are not limited to:
        1. The worker is advised that they will not be permitted at work if there is an outbreak on the employer’s premises and they are not vaccinated.
        2. It is communicated and/or understood by the worker that refusal of a vaccination could result in changes to their hours of work, location of work, nature of job duties, or will not be able to access available extra shifts or duties.

Voluntary Vaccinations

  1. When is a vaccination considered voluntary?
    1. In accordance with POL 02/2010, Communicable Disease, WCB staff will consider a vaccination voluntary if it was not a requirement or condition of the worker’s employment.
      Examples include, but are not limited to:
      1. The worker is not required to be vaccinated but receives the vaccination voluntarily as part of a broad program organized by the employer, which may be during normal work hours and/or on employer premises.
      2. The worker voluntarily chooses to receive the vaccination when provided to the general population.

Cost Relief

  1. If evidence indicates that a compulsory vaccination caused an injury attributable solely to a worker’s pre-existing condition (i.e., worker had an allergic reaction to the vaccination), total claims costs will be charged to the Second Injury and Re-Employment Reserve (POL 03/2021, Second Injury and Re-Employment Reserve).

Policy references

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Legislative Authority

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The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013
Sections 2(1)(r), 20, 23, 49

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Document History

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(1)    New procedure to assist application of POL and PRO 02/2010, Communicable Disease, in relation to adverse reactions to a vaccination.

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Complements

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