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The 2018 Florida legislative session has proven to be pivotal for medical freedom and parental rights. Two more identical “Immunization Registry” bills were introduced in recent weeks which challenge Floridians’ right to medical privacy: CS/HB 1045, sponsored by Rep. Cary Pigman, and CS/SB 1680, sponsored by Senator Bill Montford. (Each bill has been amended separately since moving through committee.) These bills seek to mandate that all healthcare providers record every immunization given in the state of Florida to every child aged 0-18, and every college student aged 18-23, in its centralized online health tracking system, Florida SHOTS.
Currently the Florida SHOTS database includes data on residents born since 1977 who have received immunizations from participating doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, and contains records for every person born in Florida on or after January 1 st, 2003. Currently, it is not mandatory for all providers to upload immunization data into Florida SHOTS. If either HB 1045 or SB 1680 is passed, all providers in Florida would be mandated to upload immunization records to Florida SHOTS when they administer them, making it the centralized database of record for healthcare providers, schools, day care facilities, and any other private or state agency granted access through the Florida Department of Health (DOH).
While parents and college students may technically “opt out” of participation in Florida SHOTS by submitting an opt-out form, the proposed bills do not allow patients to prevent their data from being stored in the database. The bills merely allow patients to request that their data be flagged in the database as “restricted” to current healthcare providers; the proposed legislation does not define when or how the DOH would protect this data from unauthorized access. The bills include no language defining how or when parents and college students would be informed that their data is being stored in Florida SHOTS, or that patients have the right to opt out. The proposed bills would allow Florida DOH to have a compulsory, comprehensive registry of every vaccine either declined or administered to every child aged 0-18 and every college student aged 18-23 in the state of Florida. The opportunity for misuse of this information is evident; blocking these bills is critical to Floridians’ medical freedom and right to privacy.
CALL TO ACTION:
- CALL and EMAIL your Florida State Senator and Representative and ask them to OPPOSE HB 1045, which has moved through committee and goes to general vote next Wednesday, February 14 th. Ask them NOT to become a co-sponsor, using the talking points listed below. Timely action is critical! Florida residents can find their state representatives here: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx
- Please follow the Health Freedom Florida Facebook page for additional updates and calls to action, and encourage family and friends to become involved and contact their representatives as well.
- Log in often to the NVIC Advocacy Portal for updates. Be ready to contact committee members and attend committee hearings when they are scheduled for these bills.
- Please remember to keep the pressure on Florida state legislators regarding the HPV bills introduced last month, which also threaten Floridians’ medical freedom. See the HPV action alert for more information.
TALKING POINTS TO CONSIDER:
- These bills mandate that healthcare providers upload sensitive medical data into a centralized government registry. There is no language to ensure that parents and college students receive informed consent before their data is uploaded to Florida SHOTS, where it will never be deleted and patients cannot limit or control its use. “Opting out” does not really mean patients can opt out of having sensitive medical records stored and monitored by Florida DOH.
- These bills violate Section 23 of the Florida Constitution, which guarantees the people of Florida the Right of Privacy – “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein.” Mandating data upload into Florida SHOTS ensures that any state or private agency might gain access to patients’ private data currently or in the future, as the Florida DOH deems necessary.
- These bills would increase the possibility that the Florida SHOTS system could be used to track individual citizens’ medical histories and decisions regarding themselves and their children. There is significant risk for sensitive medical data to be accessed or used inappropriately in ways which Florida residents never intended nor gave consent. Passage of this legislation could lead to a slippery slope of government intrusion and abuse of citizens’ right to privacy.