FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The Daily Signal that it “will not be tracking” the reasons Americans give for refusing to take a COVID-19 vaccine, after House Republicans demanded answers about a new classification system that tracks the reasons for vaccine refusal.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans told The Daily Signal that the CDC failed to respond to their questions by a deadline last week.
“Two weeks ago, we sent a letter to the CDC demanding answers about its new COVID-19 vaccine database,” Rep. Josh Breechen, R-Okla., told The Daily Signal in a statement Monday. “The CDC is stonewalling us and refusing to respond.”
“Why won’t the CDC explain why it’s gathering data about Americans’ personal choices? House Republicans are not afraid to use the budgetary process to keep the CDC accountable to the American people,” Breechen warned.
House Republicans raised the alarm about the CDC’s involvement with the World Health Organization’s recently codified International Classification of Disease, or ICD, codes related to COVID-19 vaccination status, which went into effect last April. The codes enable the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on the reasons Americans refuse to take one of the vaccines.
The Republican lawmakers’ letter lays out the reasons for refusal in the new ICD codes:
The reasons listed include: immunization not carried out because of contraindication (Z28.0-), immunization not carried out because of patient decision for reasons of belief or group pressure (Z28.1), immunization not carried out because of patient decision for other and unspecified reason (Z28.2- ), or immunization not carried out for other reason (Z28.8-).
The CDC told The Daily Signal that it and the National Center for Health Statistics don’t have any data and won’t track the information.
“The ICD codes were implemented in April 2022, however the CDC/NCHS does not have any data on the codes and will not be tracking this information,” Nick Spinelli, a CDC spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “The codes are developed and managed by the World Health Organization to enable healthcare providers to track within their practices. Also, for some specialties the codes are used to track organ donors’ ability to donate.”
Bert Kelly, another CDC spokesman, told Reuters that the agency can analyze ICD code data on vaccination status, but the CDC and the health statistics center “are not tracking individuals” since the data is “analyzed without any personal identifiers.” Although some agencies that aren’t covered by laws protecting the confidentiality of personal health information may access the ICD codes, the code data is “not associated with specific patient identifiers,” Kelly added.
Yet House Republicans expressed concern about what they characterize as stonewalling.
“I have asked five simple questions about the CDC’s unprecedented tracking of why Americans declined the COVID-19 vaccine,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told The Daily Signal. “The CDC has so far refused to answer these basic questions.”
Roy, Breechen, and eight other Republicans—Reps. Greg Steube of Florida; Andy Ogles of Tennessee; Bill Posey of Florida; Mary Miller of Illinois; Dan Bishop of North Carolina; Andy Biggs of Arizona; Keith Self of Texas; and Lauren Boebert of Colorado—sent the letter Feb. 14 demanding answers to these five questions:
- Why did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) decide to start gathering data on why Americans chose not to take the COVID-19 vaccine?
- How do CDC and NCHS intend to use these new COVID-19 vaccination ICD codes?
- What steps are the CDC and NCHS taking to ensure that Americans’ private health information contained in the ICD system is protected?
- Will the CDC and NCHS confirm that they have not, will not, and cannot create a database of Americans based on their COVID-19 vaccination status?
- Can the CDC and NCHS confirm that private companies do not have access to lists of Americans’ COVID-19 vaccination status through the ICD system, or any other database overseen by the CDC and NCHS?
“The American people deserve answers on what data CDC is gathering on Americans and why,” Roy said Monday. “The CDC’s silence is simply unacceptable, and they should be held accountable.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, all federal agencies must “meet the requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974, which restricts what information about individual citizens—including any personal health information—can be shared with other agencies and with the public.”
Although the government can’t force civilian Americans to take a COVID-19 vaccine, private institutions such as employers, colleges, and airlines may demand vaccination. Thousands of members of the U.S. military requested religious exemptions, but most were denied. In December, the Defense Department confirmed to The Daily Signal that 8,424 service members have been discharged for refusing to take the jab.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies long have faced criticism for their statements and actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the recently retired director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, confessed that the health establishment did not initially recommend masks to the general public, in order to prevent panic buying. Critics also claim health agencies overstated the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Citing the CDC and other health agencies, social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter acted to suppress content about COVID-19 if it contradicted the government’s narrative. A Facebook staffer admitted that the company suppressed “often-true content” to combat “vaccine hesitancy.”
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