Protect our safety in Montclair: Ask about vaccination status (Letter to the editor)
I moved to Montclair 26 years ago, long before I became a senior citizen. I was drawn to the warm, welcoming environment along with the beauty and accessibility to NYC, where I worked.
Now, as an active retiree, I have been involved in activities at various local venues.
Then came COVID! Having a few underlying medical issues, my safety became a very important consideration for all I do. For many months I isolated at home, as did most everyone else.
As soon as vaccines became available, I took one since I was volunteering at the distribution site and our local hospital.
As we slowly emerge from this scourge, places are opening all over for residents to return to a new level of normalcy. However, unlike our neighbors to the east, local government is reluctant to protect citizens, especially vulnerable individuals including seniors, by only allowing vaccinated people in public gathering places.
The township tells us that they encourage vaccination but cannot ask people about their vaccination status and keep unvaccinated individuals from entering public spaces in fear of violating Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act regulations.
This is nonsense! HIPAA is in place to protect personal healthcare records when they are linked to other personal information, like a Social Security Number, which can leave a person’s personal healthcare information insecure.
COVID is a public health issue and vaccination status information is needed to protect the community as well as the individual. People using public venues in our town should be able to feel as safe as reasonably possible.
Therefore, I urge our Township Council to take the proactive approach and ensure our collective safety by requiring masks, social distancing, as much as possible and checking vaccination cards for entrance to public buildings.
Board member, Senior Citizens Advisory Committee and Gateway to Aging in Place
Editor’s note: Montclair Township officials verified to Montclair Local they do not require proof of vaccination for visitors to any township facility, but have not yet responded to a message asking whether the Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act has been cited as a reason for their policy. HIPAA restricts how certain entities, such as health providers, can use or disclose medical information, but does not restrict an entity from asking about vaccination status.
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