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Health

City Ends Partnership With ‘Philly Fighting COVID Over Possible Sales of Data – NBC 10 Philadelphia

What to Know

  • The Philadelphia Department of Public Health says it has ended its partnership with Philly Fighting COVID, an organization that oversaw the city’s largest coronavirus vaccination site, after learning that the group had become for-profit and changed its data policy to allow possible sales of users’ information.  
  • Philadelphia health officials had announced a “unique public/private partnership” with Philly Fighting COVID on January 8 and encouraged Philadelphians “to begin the registration process for a vaccine” by signing up on the Philly Fighting COVID web site.
  • Monday night, however, the Department of Public Health announced it had learned PFC had updated its data privacy policy after “a change in its corporate status … from nonprofit to for-profit” that could allow the organization to sell data through its pre-registration site.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health says it has ended its partnership with Philly Fighting COVID, an organization that oversaw the city’s largest coronavirus vaccination site, after learning that the group had become for-profit and changed its data policy to allow possible sales of users’ information.  

Philadelphia health officials had announced a “unique public/private partnership” with Philly Fighting COVID on January 8 and encouraged Philadelphians “to begin the registration process for a vaccine” by signing up on the Philly Fighting COVID web site.

Monday night, however, the Department of Public Health announced it had learned PFC had updated its data privacy policy after “a change in its corporate status … from nonprofit to for-profit.”

The updated policy could allow the organization to sell data through its pre-registration site, the city said.

“The City has not been notified of any of these data having been sold. But for PFC to have made these changes without discussion with the City is extremely troubling,” a health department spokesperson wrote. “As a result of these concerns, along with PFC’s unexpected stoppage of testing operations, the Health Department has decided to stop providing vaccine to PFC.”

Earlier, WHYY reported that Philly Fighting COVID had suspended promised community testing to focus on vaccines, leaving some neighborhoods stranded.

Figuring out where and with whom to register for a vaccine has been confusing in Pennsylvania, where counties are running their own programs and other providers, including health care systems, are also offering vaccines to certain high-risk groups.

Last week the city unveiled its own new website that allows people to sign up to be notified when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available to them.

Earlier that week, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the city was receiving information about who was getting vaccinated through Philly Fighting COVID (PFC) but added it wasn’t receiving other information beyond that. The Health Department later said they were working with PFC along with the Black Doctor’s COVID-19 Consortium and Acme “to ensure that the information those groups have collected will be added to the City’s database.”

The Health Department said they are currently working on shifting future vaccine allocations to other providers. They’re also scheduling new clinics to ensure people who were vaccinated at PFC’s clinics at the Pennsylvania Convention Center can get their second dose. The Department will be in contact with all of those people to set up appointments. 

If you are confused about where to sign up for the coronavirus vaccine, check out our guide to when and where to get a vaccine.

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