A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz Sunday asking for the immediate removal of personal questions on the COVID-19 vaccine sign-up form.
Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, has been leading the charge in advocating for senior citizens’ prioritization for the vaccine. Housley is now raising concerns about invasive questions being asked of seniors before they can receive the vaccine, such as questions about gender identity, sexual orientation, and mental or emotional condition.
Housley and 35 other senators signed a letter to Walz demanding that several personal questions be immediately taken down from the Vaccine Connector sign-up form, which is required to fill out for seniors and others who are not eligible to receive the vaccine through their healthcare provider or employer.
The letter states that seniors and others signing up are “outraged, scared, and confused on why it is necessary for the government to collect extensive and very personal information.”
Some of the required questions highlighted in the letter include the following:
- Do you live in a single-family home or an apartment?
- Do you smoke or vape?
- Are you obese?
- Do you have difficulty dressing or bathing?
- How would you describe your sexual orientation?
- Do you have a physical, mental, or emotional condition, making it very difficult to concentrate, remember, or make decisions?
“We do not believe any of this information is needed to get an appointment for the vaccine, and the data should not be harvested by the government,” the letter reads. “Keep it simple.”
Other states are asking only for name, address, phone, email, age, and insurance information.
Last week, Housley held a hearing in the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Committee to discuss the sign-up form with Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
“We are using this data to drive communication strategies to help target information to people so they know when they are eligible and where they can go to be vaccinated,” Malcolm said.
During the hearing, committee members expressed their disapproval with the invasive questions, but Malcolm would not commit to “altering the vaccine questionnaire to omit these questions,” according to a news release from Housley.
“Prefer not to answer” is an option, but every question must be answered before making a vaccine appointment, the senators point out in their letter to Walz.
“This is private information that should only be shared between a patient and a doctor,” the letter says.
“We ask that you remove the invasive questions and dispose of the data that has been obtained immediately,” it adds.
Housley reiterated in a press release that she is “appalled” at the governor and the Department of Health for “weaponizing access to the COVID vaccine” as a means of intimidating citizens into giving up personal information to the government.