Bill to provide information on unvaccinated residents to cities ahead of Knesset final votes

The Knesset panel approved controversial legislation Tuesday that will allow the Ministry of Health to provide local authorities with personal details about residents who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus.

The proposal is expected to go to law on Wednesday in its second and third readings.

Lawyers have considered the proposal because the country’s public health union issued a warning against the bill saying it would cause damage due to privacy concerns, and a senior democracy expert said the information could be leaked. used to target those who are easily persuaded by conspiracy theories to turn their votes into the upcoming March elections.

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The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee approved the bill for its second and third parliamentary readings after amending one side of the bill so that details of those who are fully vaccinated are not provided to local authorities. .

MK Haim Katz at a panel discussion on the transfer of data on unvaccinated residents to urban areas, at the Knesset on February 23, 2021 (Screen grab / Knesset channel)

“Hopefully in the next step they will tell those who have not been vaccinated that they should not come to work,” said committee chairman MK Haim Katz, referring to other legislation that is being consideration. “If that was the case, we would be out of it [the pandemic] and it is not yet there. ”

Younger people have shown more confidence in getting the vaccine and the Ministry of Health hopes the legislation will allow local authorities to recommend vaccination among residents who do not want the pictures.

But the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians issued a letter ahead of the meeting warning that “the legislation will cause short-term and long-term damage to the local authority itself, weakening trust where the benefit is limited and questionable, “Channel 12 News reported.

“Evil legislation that could infringe on a person’s rights will not contribute significantly to the goal, and may even harm it,” the IAPHP warned.

Vaccination Center run by Tel Aviv District by Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov hospital), at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, January 19, 2021. (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

The letter was sent to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, coronavirus czar Nachman Ash, and other senior officials from the health ministry. Katz was also given a copy by representatives of the Israel Medical Association, the country’s largest medical union.

“The medical information that HMOs centralize is an important resource to drive the vaccination campaign, in part because it is a tool that HMOs use to prioritize vaccines according to age and back disease. . However, the information held by HMOs is proven to be confidential, ”the letter emphasized.

Capture a video from a meeting of the Knesset Labor, Health and Labor Committee, 23 February 2021. (Channel 12 News)

Chair of the public health union Nadav Davidovitch told Channel 12 that the union fully supports the vaccination program “but we are distinguishing between actions to promote vaccination and infringement of individual rights.”

“This change in legislation is a slippery slope that could undermine public confidence and lead to unfair enforcement action,” Davidovitch warned. “Local authorities should not be open to confidential medical information. “

Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, a senior at the Israeli Institute for Democracy, raised concerns that information on the lists given to local authorities could also be used for political gain ahead of the March 23 elections.

Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler will speak at a conference at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, 11 March 2018. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

“The list of people who have not been vaccinated is valuable for those who want to find out who among us is easy to believe with conspiracy theories, so it is valuable for those who want to be selected. win, “she told Radio Cymru on Monday.” I’m very worried about making the rounds. “

Under the terms of the bill, for three months, the Ministry of Health will be allowed to provide personal information and contact of residents to local authorities and the Ministry of Education to advance the major inoculation program. Information includes data on those who received the first double-dose vaccine but did not show up for the second dose three weeks later, as would be expected, and those who did not receive the injection at all. .

As well as removing opposition to vaccination, the program would enable local authorities to locate and assist those in need of help leaving home to access vaccination centers.

In another development related to proposed legislation to support the vaccination program, Channel 13 announced Tuesday that the Histadrut Labor Alliance and private commercial business leaders are close to agreeing a memorandum of understanding that will allow employers prevent non-vaccinated workers from entering work.

However, businesses would not be allowed to burn their workers and their wages would not be affected, the report said. The agreement was raised because the Ministry of Health, which had proposed similar legislation, has so far made no progress on the issue, according to the report.

Edelstein announced Tuesday that more than 70 percent of Israelis over 16 have received their first dose of vaccine.

Nearly four and a half million Israelis, or about 50% of the country’s total population, have now received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Ministry of Health data showed. More than 3 million Israelis have received the two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech dual-inoculation that Israel uses mostly.

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