Philadelphia Department of Public Health Terminates Vaccine Distribution Contract Due to Alleged Privacy Violations

The contract of Philly Fighting COVID to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in Philadelphia city with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health was ended following accusations that the organization’s privacy policies potentially allowed the purchase of private data to third parties.

Philly Fighting COVID began as a nonprofit group that provided coronavirus testing and then turned to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. The startup company got the contract to operate the first community vaccine clinic of Philadelphia that the Department for Public Health launched on January 8, 2021.

Philly Fighting COVID built a site where Philadelphians could pre-register for the vaccines. Information like names, contact details, date of birth, zip code, and other information had to be provided. The information was supposed to be forwarded to the Health Department and utilized for improving vaccination efforts, like identifying the best areas to start other vaccine clinics. About 60,000 people used the website and pre-registered for shots.

After operating COVID-19 testing facilities, Philly Fighting COVID turned its focus to supplying vaccines. The vaccine clinic began supplying vaccines and about 6,800 people obtained their first dose at the clinic, more than a third of whom were healthcare personnel.

In December 2020, Philly Fighting COVID established a for-profit arm and then changed its business status, a privacy policy was published to its web page, the wording for which indicated data gathered via the site can be purchased by third parties.

Philly Fighting COVID likewise suddenly ceased giving vaccinations and had turned down seniors who came for appointments and had waited in line for several hours. Philly Fighting COVID stated this was because of an error on the webpage that allowed lots of persons to schedule appointments.

Philly Fighting COVID was granted the vaccine distribution contract as a non-profit. The Department of Public Health stated it did not receive any notification regarding any modification in privacy policies that may possibly have permitted the sale of individuals’ data.

Because of the above-mentioned issues, together with PFC’s surprising stoppage of testing operations, the Health Department has made the decision to stop giving vaccines to PFC.

Concerns were additionally raised about how Philly Fighting COVID was managing the vaccine services, with a number of bothersome allegations made against the firm. In particular, one nurse volunteer at the clinic alleged on Twitter that PFC didn’t require her to present any medical credentials when she applied for work and stated that the CEO took home some of the vaccines.

CEO Andrei Doroshin of Philly Fighting COVID stated on the webpage about the language problem in its privacy policy. The moment PFC became aware of it, the wordings were taken out|corrected}. PFC apologizes for the error in its privacy policy. It’s not the company’s intention to sell, share, or distribute any data obtained as it violates HIPAA rules.

Doroshin further admitted taking a few of the vaccine doses and administering them to friends. He made an apology saying it was his mistake and not the organization.

The Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has begun an investigation of Philly Fighting COVID concerning the misrepresentation of its for-profit standing and the supposed mishandling of COVID-19 vaccines. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is planning to reopen the clinic when it finds a new service provider.

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA