NPC warns DOH on releasing personal info of kids vaccinated with Dengvaxia
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) advises the Department of Health (DOH) to be careful in sharing its master list of children vaccinated with the controversial Dengvaxia drug, making sure doing so would lawful or have the consent of those involved.
This was the response of the NPC to the DOH, after the latter wrote to the privacy commission earlier last month seeking to clarify whether or not sharing a copy of the master list would violate the Data Privacy Act (DPA).
According to NPC, DOH said that the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) would want to get some sensitive personal information about the children vaccinated with the drug starting in April 2016.
PAO’s request would want to included the patient’s name, birthday, home address, and vaccination card, among other things.
NPC said that PAO would want to extend free legal assistance in civil, criminal, and administrative cases to all possible victims of injuries, illnesses, or deaths related to the drug.
In an advisory opinion dated Feb. 26, NPC Chairman Raymund Liboro said that PAO could only be allowed access to the information of the specific patients it represents as their authorized legal counsel.
In general, he said that information provided to a public authority may be processed without consent when it is done pursuant of the agency’s constitutional or statutory mandate, and subject to the requirements of the DPA. This general rule, however, does not apply to PAO.
“We emphasize that the government is one of the biggest repositories of the personal data of citizens,” Liboro said. “The government or its agencies, however, do not have the blanket authority to access or use the information about private individuals under the custody of another agency.”
A health issue that has lately been mixed with politics, the Dengvaxia is a vaccine that was administered to more than 800,000 school children nearly two years ago under the Aquino administration.
The controversy grabbed headlines late last year when the drug’s manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, said that the vaccine carried risks for patients that had not previously had dengue prior to vaccination.
Apart from PAO, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and some members of the media also made a request to access the master list.
In their case, Liboro said that statistical data or aggregated data, without any personal or sensitive personal information, should be enough.
Otherwise, the release of a copy of the master list in its raw version would be tantamount to an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. /atm
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