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Health Committee gives favorable report to bill to mandate vaccination reporting

Pediatricians began a few years ago dismissing some families who refused to get vaccines, but state law has taken that discretion away from them.

Wednesday, the Senate Health Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would require that all medical providers share their vaccination records with the State of Alabama.

Senate Bill 56 is sponsored by State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence)

Sen. Melson said that SB56 would require medical providers to report vaccinations in the registry.

“This would prevent people getting repeat vaccines,” Melson said. “It does exempt flu because the vaccine changes every year.”

The Senate Health Committee is chaired by Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville).

Melson said that more accurate records in the registry would benefit schools because in many cases parents just don’t know.

“There is a voluntary registry now,” Melson said. “This makes it mandatory.”

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State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said that the state IMPRINT program has maintained a registry for 20 years.

“Almost all of our pediatricians do this anyway,” Dr. Harris said. “This requires it for those providers who do not know it now.”

“Our biggest issue is with a pharmacy who gives vaccines,” Melson said.

“Most states do require this,” Harris said. “It allows us to know our vulnerability as a state. Last year we had a measles outbreak and did not know our vulnerability. What percentage of the population has been vaccinated.”

Harris said, “HIPPA does not apply to public health records.”

State Senator Jack Williams (R-Wilmer) said, “My email has been flooded with emails from the public urging me to vote no on this. I have also heard from some doctors too who say that it added to their paperwork.”

Dr. Harris said that the Alabama Department of Public Health will send someone to train them and their staff how to do the reporting.

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Melson motioned to give the bill a favorable report.

Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) asked, “Is this just for children?”

Harris said that the registry maintains records on adults as well as children.

“This does not impose anything on the public at all,” Harris explained. “Public health does have a statutory authority to collect public health information.”

Chairman McClendon said, “Parents of children have an option to opt out. If they opt out they are not in there.”

“People may opt out of immunizing their children,” Harris said,

Senator Larry Stutts (R-Sheffield) said, “if you opt out of having vaccines are you recorded in the system as opt outers?”

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Harris said that that program is administered by the Health Department. “They have to show that they are opting out and watch a video on our website. That information is already in there.We are not picking up new information on those folks that we do not already have.”

The committee voted to give the bill a favorable report on a ten to one vote. Williams was the one “No” vote.

There were a number of student nurse practitioners visiting the committee that day.

McClendon said, “Today is nurse practitioner day in the Senate Health committee.”

SB56 can now be considered by the full Senate.

Today is day four of the 2020 Alabama regular legislative session. Under the Alabama Constitution the regular session may last no more than thirty days.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.



UAB vaccine expert Dr. Paul Goepfert said the new boosters give recipients their best chance to avoid infection and hospitalizations.


The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests reported to ADPH is now 19.4 percent, the lowest state positivity rate since mid-June.


The 7-day positivity rate as of Aug. 17 was 25 percent, down from 27.6 percent two weeks earlier on Aug. 3.


The Alabama Department of Public Health has announced that it has switched from daily to weekly updates of COVID-19 statistics.