Mandatory vaccine database raises concern over privacy

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- Obtaining medical information might get easier with a bill making its way through the legislature. HB 103/ SB56 would make it mandatory for health care providers to put your personal information into a statewide vaccine database called Immprint.

It’s a database some members of the Alabama Republican Party are calling an intrusion of privacy.

“When people learn this, who is going to feel like they can go and tell their doctor something private,” said Angela Broyles, a member of the Alabama Republican Party.

Under the bill, Immprint would be responsible for storing a patient’s vaccine information. It’s a registry that has been around since the year 2000, and it’s a system the State’s Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, said would be a helpful tool for a healthcare office’s electronic record.

“It’s just part of their data you know, you pull up on their screen you see the patient and you know you see their vital signs and their medications and their medical history, and you also see their vaccine history,” said Harris.

Harris said healthcare providers, as well as those administering the vaccine, would have access to the information. This is information that, right now, is voluntary for healthcare workers to add to the database.

“For my husband to find out health information about me, I have to sign a release. Yet my doctor would be forced, and mandated by this bill, to share my private information,” said Broyles.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said during last year’s statewide measles outbreak, having the database information would have been vital.

“I could never really inform our political leadership how well covered we were in Alabama,” said Harris. “I mean we have an idea, we have a lot of measles vaccines that we have voluntarily put into Immprint, but we don’t really have a way of saying for sure whether we are protected.”

Opponents claim the state health department has a contract to receive money from the CDC when they give the CDC people’s health information. Opponents say that contract requires ADPH to promote legislation for this mandatory database.

“My privacy, everyone in Alabama’s privacy, is not worth whatever that federal funding is,” said Broyles.

"There is absolutely no expectations that this would somehow financially benefit the state I mean that's just a spurious statement," said Harris.

Meanwhile, 9,000 members of various professional health organizations in the state have backed the bill.

Some of the following are:
► The Alabama Academy of Family Physicians
► The American Academy of Pediatrics-Alabama Chapter
► The Medical Association of the State of Alabama
► The Alabama Association of School Nurses
► Dr. Scott Harris-State Health Officer and Representative April Weaver

Alabama’s Republican Party meeting Saturday ended without discussing the resolution. The bill to mandate the statewide database is waiting to be put in a committee for a vote.

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