Irish Daily Mail

A record of those who DON’T take the vac­cine

HSE will doc­u­ment who gets a jab as an ex­pert fears the in­for­ma­tion could be shared to other agen­cies

- By Craig Hughes Po­lit­i­cal Correspond­ent news@dai­

PEO­PLE who refuse to take the Covid-19 vac­cine will be recorded on the Health Ser­vice Ex­ec­u­tive (HSE) data­base, the Ir­ish Daily Mail can re­veal.

A spe­cialised data­base built by t ech gi ants I BM and Sales­force will cap­ture the data of ev­ery per­son in the coun­try and when they have been vac­ci­nated.

Fred Logue, a so­lic­i­tor spe­cial­is­ing in in­for­ma­tion law, said the col­lec­tion of the data would be law­ful as long as there was a ‘le­gal ba­sis’ for do­ing so.

‘The HSE does have du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in re­la­tion to pub­lic health, so as long as there’s a good rea­son jus­ti­fy­ing the record­ing of it, and it meets the re­quire­ment nec­es­sary, pro­por­tion­ate, then I don’t in prin­ci­ple see any­thing wrong with it,’ he said.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vac­cine is the sole jab cur­rently be­ing ad­min­is­tered in this coun­try. It needs to be stored at -70C and has to be used within five hours of it be­ing taken out of the ul­tra-cool freezer.

Mr Logue pointed out that the HSE does need to cap­ture this data for the roll-out of the na­tional vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme.

He said: ‘You can see why you’d need records like this. There is go­ing to be a na­tional vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme, and just for the ba­sic: if some­one presents for the vac

‘There’s kind of a grey area’

cine, have they got it al­ready, have they not got it, or have they been of­fered it or not of­fered it?

‘That’s im­por­tant stuff to have par­tic­u­larly when there’s a lim­ited sup­ply or when you’re try­ing to reach ev­ery­one.’

How­ever, Mr Logue said he would be con­cerned if the dataset was used by other agen­cies.

He said: ‘If we’re get­ting into those kind of ar­eas, I think you’d need [new] leg­is­la­tion.

‘There’s kind of a grey area where shar­ing has been jus­ti­fied, but for any na­tional level data­base, par­tic­u­larly a health data­base, if you’re go­ing be­yond what it is di­rectly be­ing used for, you would need some form of leg­isla­tive ba­sis to share it and not just gen­eral rules.

‘My an­tenna will be twitch­ing if it sud­denly got shared with the air­port… or even the CSO [Cen­tral Sta­tis­tics Of­fi­cer] in a way that can be used to iden­tify peo­ple.’

A spokes­woman for the HSE told this news­pa­per that while it will record those who do and do not get the vac­cine, ev­ery­one ‘will have con­trol of their own data’.

The spokes­woman added that data will not be ex­ported ‘with­out con­sent or a le­gal ba­sis’.

Con­cerns have been r aised in­ter­na­tion­ally about the use of data gath­ered in re­sponse to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

In Sin­ga­pore, po­lice have been able to access con­tact-trac­ing data for use in crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Last week, Span­ish health min­is­ter Sal­vador Illa said a sim­i­lar data­base would be cre­ated there and that it could be shared with other EU coun­tries.

‘What we will have is a registry that will also be shared with our Euro­pean part­ners … of those who have been of­fered it and re­jected it,’ Mr Illa told the Span­ish broad­caster La Sexta.

The roll-out of the Covid-19 jab started last week with around 3,500 peo­ple be­ing vac­ci­nated.

The ‘core el­e­ment’ of the IT sys­tem has been op­er­a­tional since De­cem­ber 29. Other func­tions such as the self-regis­tra­tion por­tal are to op­er­ate this week, the HSE said. The data will be stored on the Sales­force data­base and ‘there should not be the need for any data trans­fer/merger’, the spokes­woman for the HSE said.

Last month, a sur­vey of TDs by this news­pa­per found that three elected mem­bers will not take the vac­cine.

In ad­di­tion to this, the chair of the Dáil’s Spe­cial Com­mit­tee on Covid- 19 Re­sponse, Michael McNa­mara, i s re­fus­ing to say whether he will take the vac­cine or not. Mr McNa­mara, an In­de­pen­dent TD for Clare, said it is a ‘per­sonal de­ci­sion’ and would not speak fur­ther on the is­sue.

‘I want to be ap­praised of the lat­est pub­lic health ad­vice,’ he said.

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