Five U.S. House Republicans from Ohio Thursday voted in favor of a bill that, according to its critics, will fund a federal vaccination database.
H.R. 550, also known as the Immunization Modernization Act, will modernize and expand “a confidential, population-based, computerized database that records immunization doses administered by any health care provider to persons within the geographic area covered by that database,” according to its text.
The upgrade to the system will also cost $400 million.
The five Ohio Republicans that voted in favor of the legislation are Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH-06), Dave Joyce (R-OH-14), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02) and Michael Turner (R-OH-10).
But some of those Republicans say the bill is not nearly as ominous as it sounds.
“There is some misinformation going around about a piece of legislation recently passed by the House (H.R. 550 – Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act),” Johnson told The Ohio Star by email. “Simply put: There is no creation of a national vaccine database. None!”
“There are no names or private information collected. And this bill actually makes it harder for the government to track you and your data,” Johnson said. “The bill cannot be used to enforce the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates – mandates that I oppose because I believe they are unlawful and unconstitutional. In fact, I voted against the continuing resolution bill to fund the government yesterday to prevent the Biden vaccine mandate from ever taking effect (the court is currently blocking it as well).”
Joyce’s spokeswoman Katherine Sears also told The Star that “misinformation” is being spread about the bill.
“This bill does not store personal info in new federal vaccine lists or databases, nor does it create any new spending (it repurposes previously appropriated funds to be spent through an existing grant program),” Sears told The Star. “It simply modernizes Ohio’s existing confidential, state-run Immunization Information System (IIS). These state-run systems have existed for decades and use population-based, deidentified [sic] information – meaning personal information and vaccination status will not be accessible by the federal government.”
Sears said that H.R. 550 will simply put into place guidelines for the Democrats’ non-specific plan to upgrade the system, which was introduced as part of the American Rescue Plan.
“In the American Rescue Plan, Democrats allocated millions of dollars to ‘improve IIS,'” she told The Star. “There was little to no descriptive language or guardrails on what that meant. By laying out in detail what’s meant by improving IIS, all while protecting States’ rights and personal information, this bill will ensure that money that was already appropriated is NOT going to anything outside of actually modernizing existing state-run immunization systems.”
She also noted that the funds for the new system are being repurposed from an existing grant program, and said that the bill does not create any new spending.
Gonzalez, Wenstrup and Turner’s offices did not respond to a comment request.
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