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Press Release from Texas House Representative

Press Release
John H. Shields
Texas House of Representatives
District 122

March 26, 1998

Bureaucrats Violate Law by Releasing Child Immunization Information

Representative Shields has submitted evidence to the Texas Department of Health (TDH) indicating that employees have violated state law by releasing Children's confidential immunization information without written consent of their parents.

Health and Safety Code, Sec. 161.007 (a) (3), states that TDH must develop rules that require written consent of a parent or guardian before releasing any immunization information. Yet while the TDH Board deliberates on proposed new rules, in several documented instances this week, individuals obtained confidential immunization information over the phone with only a child's name and birth date.

Furthermore, "the proposed TDH rules appear to violate the law also," said Shields. On Friday, March 20, Shields sent a letter of protest to TDH urging them to scrap the proposed rules. If adopted by the TDH Board, the proposed Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 25, Sec. 100.2 (a) (4) would require parents to write a letter to TDH if they want their children's information removed form the registry. Otherwise, information is automatically included. Shields contends this is 180 degrees opposite of what the law says. The public comment period for the rules ended Friday, March 20, and the TDH Board will not meet again until April 17. That is the earliest date they could adopt the proposed rules.

Shields' letter came after his constituent complained about the proposed rules. Shields said, "Governor Bush signed a law that respects the privacy of families. That law requires prior written consent to release immunization information. Now for TDH employees to release such information without prior written consent definitely violates state law and may incur criminal liability."

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