Some Mid-Michigan residents have concerns over vaccination registration information privacy

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 8:33 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (2/4/2021) - With more and more people getting the covid-19 vaccine, questions are coming up about the registration process.

How secure is the information you’re providing in order to get a shot?

The line is long, as Genesee County residents wait their turn at the former Flint Northwestern High School to get the coronavirus vaccine.

And that process involves paperwork, which can lead to a bit of apprehension on privacy for some.

Gabrielle Holmesscott from Flint Township said, as she was waiting in line in her vehicle to get vaccinated, “I think that’s always a concern. Any time you register for anything, when you’re using the internet. But, you have to hope for the best, especially when you’re out here trying to protect yourself and the community.”

“They’ve done a great job so far, and this is about our health, commented Jim Cheek, a Davison resident. Everybody needs to do it.”

Each county is responsible for collecting the amount of personal data required.

And it varies.

For example, in Bay County, they collect vital statistics, like name, date of birth, address & phone number, through a secured third party site, then forwards it to the Michigan Care Independent Registry or MCIR.

The registry is a depository for medical records that sits behind a firewall at the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, where only authorized users have access.

“The only information that we collect in there is information that’s relevant to insuring that patients get the education information they need, and that we get the information we need to make sure we can administer the vaccine safely,” commented Bay County Health Department Medical Director Thomas Bender, MD, PhD.

HIPPA laws do offer some protection, but it’s not absolute.

Privacy expert Jared Coseglia says the conversation has shifted from one of personal safety to personal privacy.

“How is that data being used, stored, who has access to it. And these questions become important ones because, without answers, people may not get the vaccine. It’s connecting that data in a centralized location, that could potentially be accessed by unwanted third parties, whether that’s somebody selling that data or a hacker accessing that data.”

There may even be some legal questions explored, like can you be discriminated against at a restaurant or sporting event if you haven’t had your vaccine.

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