In an unprecedented step, the Centers for Disease Control is requiring states to enter into data-use agreements that will share personal information of people receiving the coronavirus vaccine with the federal government. The CDC is calling for the handover of information on vaccinated people, including their names, addresses, dates of birth and ethnicities.
There are undoubtedly sound public health reasons for wanting to know this information. But the government must weigh those benefits against concerns both practical and privacy-related. First, there is the worry expressed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that such a list will prompt some groups, such as undocumented immigrants, to be unwilling to receive a vaccine.
Also of concern is the potential for misuse of this data. What exactly are the internal safeguards and guarantees that CDC can make that this information will not be used for any purposes outside of public health? The federal government should ensure that agencies such as ICE or the IRS will not be able to access this information. Otherwise, a vaccine registry would be decidedly unhealthy for privacy.
This is a developing issue that PPSA will continue to follow.