Nevada COVID-19 vaccination program cannot be used to share personal information with federal agencies

The Governor’s Office for New Americans (ONA) released a statement on Tuesday saying that Nevada’s COVID-19 vaccination program cannot share personal information with federal agencies. 

The statement came in response to growing concerns in Nevada, notably among the undocumented immigrant community, over privacy protections provided by the program. Those concerns were addressed by Gov. Steve Sisolak during his Monday press conference.

“Immigrant and refugee communities are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to ensure they have equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and participate in the State’s vaccination program,” Sisolak said. “We take their concerns seriously and the State of Nevada is committed to protecting our immunization data as outlined in our statutes.”

Richard Whitley, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, explained that the state’s privacy laws allow for the state’s vaccination program to share personally identifiable information only with a set of authorized groups that excludes federal agencies.

“The program is only sharing aggregate, de-identified information regarding numbers of doses administered in Nevada to meet the federal reporting requirements,” said Whitley.

In accordance with privacy laws, the state records all administered shots in an immunization information system called NV WebIZ, which is managed by the state’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health. 

The information entered in NV WebIZ is confidential and can only be accessed by specifically authorized groups, including health care providers, the Nevada System of Higher Education, childcare facilities, public and private schools, the health department, an insurer, an agency that provides child welfare services, and the Department of Corrections.

The ONA also promises to aid efforts in ensuring that the state’s immigrant and refugee community has “access to the COVID-19 vaccine and to critical information regarding the vaccine rollout.”