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New York’s Senate Health Committee on May 11 passed S75, a bill to require healthcare providers who administer vaccines to adults 19 or older to report all immunizations to the state-run database that will provide the data to the New York State Department of Health or the New York City Department of Health (for providers treating patients in New York City).

The bill passed out of committee along party lines, by a vote of nine to five, with all Republicans opposed.

On May 20, companion bill A279 was voted on and passed by a vote of 12 to 14. All seven Republicans voted no, along with five Democrats. A279, sponsored by Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, is scheduled for a vote today in the Codes Committee.

S75 is sponsored by Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman. In 2019, Hoylman authored the bill that repealed religious exemptions for vaccines. Hoylman also has proposed legislation to mandate the HPV vaccine and annual flu vaccines for school children. His most recent bill would require college students to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Arguing in favor of the bill, Hoylman said during the Senate Health Committee hearing:

“ … this is important data that our health departments need as we battle COVID. This is really a matter of life or death, if we don’t get this information into public officials’ hands. This is not about consent or personal freedoms, this is about making certain that everyone is protected from this ravaging pandemic.”

Neither version of the bill allows for New York residents to opt out of having their vaccine records reported to the system. During the hearing for A279, committee members discussed the possibility, but so far the bill has not been modified to include a mechanism for opting out.

“This bill removes the right of all New York adults to keep their vaccination status private,” said John Gilmore, co-founder of the New York Alliance for Vaccine Rights. “It also results in the confiscation of personal health data in the name of public health.”

Gilmore added:

“This personal health information could be commoditized for broader use and could lead to targeting certain populations who aren’t receiving vaccines with efforts to coerce compliance and increase uptake rates.”

Gilmore said a database of the type outlined by the two bills would be necessary to enforce any system of vaccine passports, such as the Excelsior Pass rolled out in New York in March. Calling the law is “invasive” and another example of “government overreach,” Gilmore said it could lead to more government control and segregation.

During the Senate Health Committee hearing last week, committee members discussed how the data collected by the state will be used to increase COVID vaccination rates in areas where rates are falling low.

COVID vaccine uptake rates in New York’s Black communities are lower versus other segments of the population, according to an article published last week in The New York Times, which stated:

“Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are getting vaccinated at significantly lower rates than other groups. Citywide, only 33 percent of Black adults have gotten a vaccine dose. For Hispanic adults, the rate is 42 percent. About 51 percent of white adults have received at least one dose, and 73 percent of Asian adults have gotten a dose.”

“Could it be that the Black community is more reluctant to get these experimental vaccines, given the history of the Tuskegee Experiment and other medical experiments run by the government in years past?” Gilmore asked.

Gilmore pointed out that only one of New York’s two Black senators on the health committee voted in favor of the bill, while none of the three Black members of the assembly’s health committee voted yes.

Here’s what New Yorkers can do to fight this bill:

  1. Call and email your state senator and assembly person and ask them where they stand on S75/A279. If you aren’t sure who your reps are, look up your state senator here and your assembly person here. Politely ask them if this goes to a full floor vote, will they vote no?
  2. Call the Codes Committee members. The next step is for the bill to go to Codes today  for a vote. Call, email, Tweet and connect with these members on social media. Here’s the full list of Code Committee members.

If you support informed consent, medical privacy rights and the right to determine what medical procedures you choose or decline, take the above actions today.