Protecting Our Safety in Montclair: Learn About Vaccination Status (Letter to the Editor)
I moved to Montclair 26 years ago, long before I became a senior. I was drawn to the warm and welcoming environment as well as the beauty and accessibility of New York, where I worked.
Now, as an active retiree, I have participated in activities in various local places.
Then came COVID! Having a few underlying medical issues, my safety has become a very important consideration in everything I do. For many months, I isolated myself at home, like almost everyone.
As soon as the vaccines became available, I took one as I was a volunteer at the distribution site and at our local hospital.
As we slowly emerge from this scourge, places are opening up everywhere for residents to return to a new level of normalcy. However, unlike our neighbors to the east, the local government is reluctant to protect citizens, especially vulnerable people, including the elderly, by only allowing vaccinated people in public gathering places.
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Township tells us they encourage vaccination but cannot ask people about their immunization status and prevent unvaccinated people from entering public spaces for fear of violating privacy law regulations and responsibility.
It does not make sense! HIPAA is in place to protect personal health records when they are linked to other personal information, such as a social security number, which can leave a person’s personal health information insecure.
COVID is a public health concern and information on immunization status is necessary to protect the community as well as the individual. People using public places in our city should be able to feel as safe as reasonably possible.
Therefore, I urge our city council to take a proactive approach and ensure our collective safety by requiring as much as possible masks, social distancing and checking vaccination cards for entry into public buildings.
Member of the Board of Directors, Seniors Advisory Committee and Gateway to Aging in Place
Editor’s note: Montclair Township officials have confirmed to the Montclair local that they do not require proof of vaccination for visitors to a township facility, but have yet to respond to a message asking if the Health Personal Information Protection and Accountability Act was cited as the reason for their policy. HIPAA restricts how certain entities, such as healthcare providers, can use or disclose medical information, but does not prevent an entity from asking questions about vaccination status.
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