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New law lets Israeli Health Ministry share personal info of citizens who decline COVID vaccine

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Jerusalem — Israel's parliament approved a law this week that will allow the personal information of people who chose not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to be shared with local and national authorities for the next three months. Proponents of the law argue that it will be an effective means of encouraging vaccinations, but many sees it as blatant violation of privacy.

Under the law the Health Ministry can provide the name, national identification number, phone number and address of any citizen who is entitled to be vaccinated but hasn't yet received a shot to the individual's local government, the national Education Ministry and the Welfare Ministry, if any of those authorities ask for the information.

Opposition lawmakers in the parliament, known in Israel as the Knesset, and human rights organizations have decried the legislation.

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"Disclosing such information is a slippery slope, and damages people's privacy," Tamar Zandberg of the Meretz party said.

Hadas Ziv, of Physicians for Human Rights, accused the Knesset of "passing a draconian law which crushes medical ethics and the patient rights."

Those who object say there are many other ways to encourage people to get the vaccine without violating personal privacy rights.

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Israel was one of the first countries to launch its national mass-vaccination campaign, and it has been hugely successful. More than 90% of Israelis over the age of 60 have been fully vaccinated, and data shows that is having a massive impact on the number of people infected and admitted to hospitals.

While younger Israelis have shown more reluctance to get vaccinated, more than a third of younger adults have had a shot, and that has allowed Israel to start easing lockdown measures.

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An Israeli woman shows her "Green Pass" to show she's been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease or has presumed immunity as she enters Yarkon park in Tel Aviv to attend a concert, in Israel, February 24, 2021. AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

The Health Ministry has been issuing Israelis who've been inoculated or recovered from COVID-19 with a so-called "Green Pass." Only those who carry the pass can get into the country's recently-reopened hotels, gyms, swimming pools, theaters and concert halls.

Under the new law, anyone eligible to get a Green Pass who opts not to could soon find themselves facing even more restrictions, as they could be outed by the Health Ministry to other authorities as vaccine-resisters.

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