You can see the many problems here. The federal government says it will be building a list of everyone in America who has gotten the vaccine, including their ethnicities and where they live. During the best of times that would set teeth on edge, but coming from a white nationalist administration proven to have far more interest in retribution and racism than public safety, and which lies about everything, all the time, it looks worse. Gov. Andrew Cuomo speculated that it was “another example” of Trump‘s government trying to skim off information on undocumented residents that they’ve been blocked from getting in other ways. Whether that’s true or it isn’t, there is a real danger that it will be seen that way by many, and will therefore result in much lower rates of vaccination for undocumented residents. That would be a crisis. It would also likely result in conspiracy-minded anti-government conservatives also refusing to get the vaccine in large(r) numbers, which would … also be a crisis, let’s say.
The CDC is insisting that the data will not be shared with other agencies and that it is needed to ensure that “people who move across state lines receive their follow-up doses,” says the Times, as well as to track side effects and effectiveness. This might be reassuring had this administration not relentlessly lied about everything, all the time, which means that CDC assurances are worth exactly nothing. The government has long had means of tracking pharmacological effectiveness and side effects without violating doctor-patient privilege, and it seems particularly implausible that an administration that has had absolutely no interest in pandemic tracking or contact tracing up until this point is suddenly going to be following up, person by person, ensuring everybody who gets a dose of vaccine gets a second dose later on.
It doesn’t fly. It may be entirely on the up-and-up, but the administration’s past actions have made asks like this one a tough sell. The administration premise is that the CDC can’t make anyone wear masks, has no ability to enforce social distancing or take other lifesaving measures, but will find you at your home to make sure you get an effectiveness-maximizing booster shot.
Because this move sounds Sketchy As Hell, it sounds like most states may simply not comply. While the pandemic does give government expansive temporary powers, the medical privacy concerns here are enormous, and the Trump-era CDC has been so noticeably absent as the states attempt to battle the pandemic on their own that coming back now with such broad and ethically murky demands may be met more with hostility than acquiescence. We’ll see.
The other bit of this equation is that obviously, the vast majority of these lists will be compiled after Donald Trump has fled to his Florida not-residence. It will be up to a Biden administration to determine whether the CDC still “needs” this information in order to monitor vaccination efforts, and up to his own team to convince the public that the information should be turned over despite privacy concerns.
That will likely be the end of things, one way or the other. Conservative lawmakers would likely work themselves into extreme outrage at the mere notion the moment a Biden appointee put their name to it, so whether the current CDC begins such a list or does not, come next January it will be declared absolutely untenable and be scrapped.