HARRISBURG – Last week, the PA Department of Health announced a plan to text over 250,000 Pennsylvanians who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but not yet received the second dose, to encourage them to become fully vaccinated as the Delta variant continues to spread statewide. Some say the announcement raises serious privacy concerns relative to whether the Department of Health has the authority to use personal information in this capacity, whether the information has been provided from the Health Department to third party providers to facilitate the text messaging, how that contract was entered into, and what precautions are being taken to protect the information. PA House Republican Caucus spokesperson Jason Gottesman said no Pennsylvanian—even those partially vaccinated—gave permission to the Wolf Administration to send them a text message or provide their private health information to a third party vendor or anyone else. Given the administration’s shoddy track record of protecting Pennsylvanians’ private health and personally identifiable information, questions remain about how the information is being stored, who is facilitating this text messaging program, and what assurances have been provided that this information is being kept secure.

JASON GOTTESMAN