BOISE • A proposed change to the state’s immunization database caused controversy during a Senate Health and Welfare Committee meeting on Wednesday, with vaccine opponents coming out to testify against the registry and vaccinations in general.
Currently, Idaho’s Immunization Reminder Information System, or IRIS, tracks immunization information of anyone who receives an immunization in the state. The system is voluntary, though it automatically records patient information and immunization records unless they or their parents choose to opt-out.
The proposal, presented by Dr. Christine Hahn of the Department of Health and Welfare, would allow the registry to retain the name and date of birth of those who opt out to make sure medical professionals don’t accidentally enter information of those who don’t want their information in the database.
The idea, Hahn said, is to protect those who opt out from having their information disclosed against their will.
But some members of the public who testified expressed concern that the government would retain that information and use it against them in the future.
Others were concerned about privacy and didn’t want their names associated with a database they opted out of.
“I’m fearful of the ever-increasing government databases,” said Ryan Carson, adding he was worried about insurance companies using the database to deny people insurance.
During testimony, the discussion veered into pro- and anti-vaccination debates, with mentions of autism and forced vaccinations in schools.
Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, said she received 100 e-mails against the bill.
“I think that it can be easily abused, very easily, to see who is or is not compliant,” Nuxoll said.
Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, said he viewed the change as the easiest way to honor parents’ wishes, calling it an “elegant solution” to the danger of someone accidentally entering unwanted information into a database.
Ultimately, the committee voted to hold the bill in committee for the moment, allowing Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, to bring up the bill again in the future.