France to keep list of people who have Covid vaccination

The new list will facilitate and monitor the campaign roll-out, health authorities say, but critics say it will also track those who do not get the jab

31 December 2020
A bottle of a Covid-19 vaccine. France to keep list of people who have Covid vaccinationFrance is to compile data on everyone who has the Covid-19 vaccine, it has confirmed
By Hannah Thompson

France is to compile a list of people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, to monitor side-effects and keep track of the roll-out - but critics claim this will also identify those who have not had the vaccine.

The list received approval from data freedom agency, la Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), this week on December 29.

Called the “SI Vaccin Covid” or “SI” (for “système d’information”), the list will be managed by health authorities la Direction générale de la santé and the Assurance maladie, and begin from January 4.

It will gather all the surnames, names, and dates of birth of people vaccinated, as well as the date and place of their vaccination, the type of vaccine used, and the name of the person who did the injection.

France's vaccination roll-out began on December 29.

Read more: Covid-19: France's vaccination rollout explained

Dr Alain Fischer, the coordinator of France’s vaccination campaign and dubbed “Mr Vaccine” in the government, told news service RTL: “[The objective] is to make it possible for patients and healthcare workers to raise the alert if any unwanted side-effects are observed.”

A decree in le Journal Officiel said that the list will allow “the roll-out, monitoring, and continued focus of our vaccination campaign against Covid-19”.

The list is also expected to allow healthcare authorities to monitor the speed and cost of the vaccination campaign, and to check if vaccination sites have enough vaccines and syringes to continue. It will also monitor how much each doctor is being paid per vaccination-related appointment.

It is also intended to allow epidemiologists to have access to good data and statistics to study patient effects, and any unintended side-effects. Healthcare agencies the Assurance maladie and the Agence de sécurité du médicament (ANSM) will also have access to the data.

Other healthcare professionals will also have access, but only once it has been anonymised.

The data will be protected, the CNIL said, “by medical secrecy, and will only be seen by trained personnel, under professional secrecy”.

 

List critics

Yet, some critics have said that the compilation of the list will effectively amount to keeping track of people who have not had the vaccine, as well as those who have.

News source Economie Matin pointed out that while your name can be removed from the list if you refuse to have the vaccination, it cannot later be removed if you do in fact have it. This is, it said, because monitoring the impact of the vaccination on patients is seen as in the public interest, and that everyone having the vaccination must be identifiable, in case of future issues.

Economie Matin continues to say that once the vaccination programme has been completed, the list will effectively reveal by omission everyone who has not had the jab.

But health authorities have denied claims that the list is intended for this purpose.

Dr Fischer said that the decision to compile a list of people who have had the vaccine is a deliberate choice to raise people’s trust in the campaign, in contrast to Spain, which is compiling its own list of people who have not had the vaccine.

Dr Fischer also said that the SI list was not a precursor to establishing a “health passport” system or any plans to limit the freedom of people who have not had the vaccine.

Thomas Dautieu, director of conformity at CNIL, told FranceInfo: “The whole point of having checks that CNIL will carry out is to reassure the population that the data will only be used for the management and monitoring of the vaccination campaign itself.”

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