Community News for Goffstown, Dunbarton, New Boston & Weare, NH

2007 - 2016

State Vaccine Registry: The Rest of the Story (Privacy and Beyond)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR (In response to Laura Condon of Bedford, NH)

In order to give voters information to make an informed choice, both at the voting booth but more importantly with personal information, I am sharing some facts and history about the State Vaccine Registry.

Passed in 1987, NH state law requires all children (those under 18) to be vaccinated unless the parents have a religious objection; there is no law requiring adults to be vaccinated.  In 1998, a law was passed to set up a state vaccine registry so that, in the event of a contagious disease crisis, limited public health resources could be deployed efficiently to limit the spread of the outbreak.  That law, RSA 141-C:20-f, is “opt-out”. It provides:
    “II. No patient, or the patient's parent or guardian if the patient is a minor, shall be required to participate in the immunization registry.
   “III. Physicians, nurses, and other health care providers may report an immunization to the immunization registry unless the patient, or the patient's parent or guardian if the patient is a minor, refuses to allow reporting of this information.”

Currently, there is NO State Vaccine Registry in place.  Several years ago, the Department of Health and Human Services tried to adopt rules to create the registry to comply with state law.  The rules they wished to adopt at that time would have mandated everyone’s vaccination records be given to the state by health care providers.  Laura Condon and I worked together to defeat those rules because we felt they were an unnecessary invasion of medical information privacy.

In the first half of 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services adopted revised vaccine registry rules which specified that the “opt-out” required by law occur at the time of vaccination, banned a person’s prior health care providers from transferring vaccination information to the registry without the person’s explicit permission, and further limited access to personal information in the registry.  I supported these rules because they provided solid medical information privacy protections, inconvenienced the fewest number of people and insured a reasonable amount of vaccination data would be available to protect public health in a crisis situation.

To be clear, no medical records or any other information about you (or your child) - including your name - go to the registry if you don’t get vaccinated.  If you (or your child) get vaccinated, only the vaccination information (not the rest of your medical information) known to the medical provider who vaccinates you will go to the registry, but if you “opt out,” no information about you, including your name, will go to the registry.

I hope that these facts will help assure voters of the privacy of their medical information and their rights under current state law.

Respectfully,

Neal M. Kurk

State Representative for Weare and Deering

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