Texas, Collection of Immunization Records
March 24, 2003
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a nationwide organization of physicians in all specialties, opposes HB 1921 because it violates the rights of parents, patients, and physicians.
Physicians have an ethical duty to preserve the confidentiality of their patients' records and also to advise patients about medical treatments according to the best of their ability and judgment.
Requiring the entry of all immunization records, so that parents have to be identified in a separate "non-consenters" database as a condition of removing the records from the vaccine registry, violates patients' privacy. Moreover, the Texas Department of Health has a record of disregarding the law with respect to the use of patient information.
There is no good public health reason for compelling collection of these data for all children. Parents and physicians are capable of maintaining these records without State participation. There is only one purpose that requires a database with 100 percent compliance: to support coercive measures against parents or physicians who may disagree with one or more of the State's medical recommendations for their children or patients.
Even if current officials are vigilant in guarding the data, there is no way to guarantee protection against future abuses.
Only physicians are licensed to practice medicine; the State is not. Thus, only the physician, or a facility licensed to provide treatment, is the proper custodian for the patients' medical records. No patient should be forced to submit to government surveillance because of either obtaining or declining medical treatment.
Please keep the vaccine registry voluntary as under current law.
Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director