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New Maryland Law Requires Health Care Providers to Report Vaccinations and Immunizations to the Department of Health

November 2019

By: John A. Butler

The Maryland General Assembly passed a new law that requires health care providers to report vaccinations and immunizations to ImmuNet, a statewide “computerized information and reminder system,” maintained by the Maryland Department of Health (“Department”).  This law became effective on October 1, 2019.

The previous law largely required only pharmacies to report such information; however, because vaccines and immunizations are now administered more commonly by urgent care facilities – in addition to primary health care physicians – maintaining complete records has reportedly become increasingly more difficult for the State. 

Now, upon the administration of a vaccination or immunization, the law requires a health care provider to do three things: 

First, the provider must provide the patient with a brochure, created by the Department that, among other things, outlines the patient’s rights under the statute and describes the benefits of the database.  Likewise, the provider must also present the patient with a “refusal to permit” form, which allows the patient to “refuse to permit disclosure of confidential information” by the Department to certain enumerated recipients. 

Second, the provider is required to “notify” the patient of the right to refuse to disclose information to the database. 

Lastly, the provider is required to “[r]eport to ImmuNet all vaccines administered.”  However, providers who “administer[] a vaccine in a nursing facility, an assisted living program, a continuing care retirement community, or a medical day care program,” are exempt from these reporting requirements. 

The statute as written is somewhat unclear as to whether a patient can refuse disclosure of the information to the database, refuse to permit disclosure of the information by the database to certain recipients, or both.  Reading the statute in conjunction with the Department’s “refusal to permit” form and brochure indicates that a patient may do both; however, even if the patient opts out of the ImmuNet database entirely, vaccination or immunization records will continue to be maintained by the Department. 

The law does not include any penalty for a provider’s failure to comply with its requirements.  If any regulations are promulgated in connection with the statute, an update will be provided.

For more information about this or other health care laws, contact John Butler or any member of the Tydings health care practice group.

This alert has been prepared by Tydings for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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