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Oregon agency inadvertently releases 40,000 state employees’ vaccine status


Two newspapers had requested vaccination, exemption rates

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s central administrative agency inadvertently released the COVID-19 vaccination status of more than 40,000 state employees to two media outlets.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports a spreadsheet sent to them and the Statesman Journal was supposed to contain the latest vaccination rates and vaccine exemption rates for each executive branch agency overseen by Gov. Kate Brown.

Brown issued an executive order in August requiring all executive branch employees — along with individuals working in educational and health care settings — to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Monday at midnight.

Instead, Oregon Department of Administrative Services External Relations Director Adam Crawford emailed a file to the outlets Monday containing vaccination status by employee name.

Crawford took the blame for the data release and asked that the personal information not be reported. “It’s a mistake on my part,” he said.

Ben Morris, a spokesperson for SEIU 503, said the release of information violates an agreement the union signed with the state which required individuals’ vaccination information to be confidential.

Morris said that “more concerning is that one of the main things that we heard from members who were vaccine hesitant is they were concerned about their privacy in this situation.”

Morris said the union is deciding how to respond.

The newspapers said they will not publish the full dataset.

According to the data, more than 90% of eligible employees in the state’s executive branch are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have received an approved religious or medical exception.

Oregon House Republican Leader Christine Drazan sent a letter to DAS Director Katy Coba Tuesday on the "significant breach of confidentiality," asking among other things "what specific changes does your department plan to implement to ensure this never happens again?"

The Oregon State Police Officers Association said it had been trying to negotiate with the state over the mandate and had expressed concern about the disclosure of personal medical and religious information.

"Apparently, the State felt it was appropriate to allow the DAS public relations director access to sensitive personnel information," OSPOA President Joshua Wetzel said in a news release.

"One wonders who else has access," he said. "The data breach is one more example of the state’s failure to take into consideration the concerns of its employees."

Wetzel said the association has asked the state to disclose what info was released and to whom. "The Association has filed the appropriate grievance under the contract with the State and are exploring other legal remedies," he added.

News release from Oregon Senate Republicans:

Kate Brown’s Failures Continue with Leak of Thousands of Workers’ Medical Information

SALEM, Ore. – On Monday night, Kate Brown’s Department of Administrative Services sent detailed vaccination statuses of tens of thousands of state workers to reporters.

The Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) released the following statement:

“I have been opposed to this overreach since the day Kate Brown announced it. Government should never coerce people into having medical procedures let alone keep track of this information. It proves to Oregonians they should not trust the government with their private health information or with this much power over their day-to-day lives.

“The impacts of Kate Brown’s overreaches are proving to be severe. Staffing shortages across the state in essential services, like police, teachers, and hospital staff are going to have enduring negative consequences on the safety of Oregonians. Now, citizens must worry if their private medical history will become public. This kind of breach of trust will further erode the public’s faith in government.

“The failures under Kate Brown’s leadership continue to stack up. Oregonians deserve better.”

Article Topic Follows: AP - Oregon-Northwest

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