By Terri Jo Neff
Criticism continues to mount in response to comments by President Joe Biden earlier this month about public health professionals possibly going door-to-door across the country to encourage people to receive one of the COVID-19 vaccinations.
Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs joined with 31 other lawmakers who comprise the House Freedom Caucus in sending a letter to Biden last week, calling it “deeply disturbing” that the federal government may be in the process of tracking the private health information of millions of Americans. Other Arizonans in the House Freedom Caucus who signed the letter were Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Debbie Lesko, and Rep. David Schweikert.
“There is no scenario where the federal government should be actively entering communities and traveling door-to-door to pressure Americans to receive a vaccine,” the July 9 letter states. “COVID-19 vaccine information is widely available throughout the country, and Americans have every ability to decide for themselves whether or not they should receive a vaccine.”
The letter was prompted by the President’s July 6 comments about the possibility of members of the U.S. COVID-19 Response Team going ““community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and oftentimes door-to-door, literally knocking on doors, to get help to the remaining people.”
The letter asks for a response by July 23 to a series of questions related to what activities the Biden Administration has undertaken, or plans to undertake, connected to vaccination databases.
Biggs, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, made additional comments after the letter was sent.
“Instead of meddling in private medical decisions, the Biden administration should focus on addressing the border crisis, the rampant rise in inflation, and the crime wave that is plaguing American cities – all crises it created,” Biggs said. “The door-to-door spying on Americans is one more example of the burgeoning surveillance state by the national government.”
The House Freedom Caucus letter is just the latest criticism directed at Biden’s comments. Two more governors spoke out late last week about the suggestion of personal reach-out to unvaccinated Americans.
“The prospect of government vaccination teams showing up unannounced or unrequested at the door of ‘targeted’ homeowners or on their property will further deteriorate the public’s trust,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement.
In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson tweeted that “sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination” would not be an effective nor welcome strategy in his state.
But despite the criticism, the prospect of a “who has been vaccinated” database may not be difficult to create. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have been behind a COVID-19 tracking smartphone app that was been promoted by tens of thousands of doctors and nurses.
Called v-safe, the app is described as an after-vaccination “health checker” which users register with to answer surveys about side effects and to report dates of vaccinations. Parents can also register dependents under their v-safe account.
“Your healthcare provider will give you an information sheet on v-safe that explains how to register and get started,” according to the CDC website. “Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers to the web surveys, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information.”
As to the confidentiality of a v-safe user’s information, the CDC website notes that “to the extent v–safe uses existing information systems managed by CDC, FDA, and other federal agencies, the systems employ strict security measures appropriate for the data’s level of sensitivity.”