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Critics say vaccine bill will risk kids’ medical privacy. Real threat? Or red herring?

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, distinguished professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article about a proposed California law that would allow the state to collect health information of schoolchildren who have been exempted from vaccinations due to medical reasons.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

California lawmakers want more state oversight of immunizations, and under a bill they are pushing, the state would begin collecting sensitive health information of schoolchildren whose doctors have exempted them from vaccinations due to medical reasons. But that proposed data collection has alarmed some parents already opposed to state-mandated vaccinations, who question whether California can be trusted to guard kids’ private medical data.

Reports of healthcare data breaches are increasingly common, with more than 500 incidents over the past 16 months in the United States involving nearly 18 million people, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. Among the victims of hacking and theft of healthcare information are state agencies, including some in California.

“There has been so much cybercrime that it’s natural that parents are concerned about the protection of privacy,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, professor of public health and medicine at UCLA and former public health director for Los Angeles County. “I can’t say it’s an illegitimate concern, but you do have to weigh the importance of trying to prevent outbreaks and broader epidemics of a number of diseases.”

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