Lawmakers want 'invasive' questions removed from Minnesota's vaccine connector

A group of lawmakers has sent a letter to Governor Walz calling for certain questions, which they believe are "invasive," to be removed from the tool the state uses to alert Minnesotans when they are able to get COVID-19 vaccine shots.

The letter, signed by a mostly Republican group of senators joined by a Minnesota DFL member and two independent senators, calls into question whether the questions on the Vaccine Connector are necessary for the vaccination effort.

The selection of questions includes some standard demographic questions, including asking your gender, sexual orientation, whether you live in an apartment or single-family home, and your employer and job title, along with some more personal questions about their physical and mental health. However, the group of senators wonders why these questions are relevant for the vaccine distribution process.

"Questions pertaining to a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, emotional, physical, or mental condition or whether the applicant has a job or is overweight are all asked through the website," the letter reads. "We do not believe any of this information is needed to get an appointment for the vaccine and the data should not be harvested by the government.  Keep it simple."

The list of questions lawmakers are concerned with includes:

  • How would you describe your gender? Male, Female, Transgender, or Other
  • How would you describe your sexual orientation? Straight, Gay or Lesbian, Bisexual, I Don’t Know, Something Else.
  • Do you have a physical, mental, or emotional condition, making it very difficult to concentrate, remember, or make decisions?
  • Do you have difficulty dressing or bathing?
  • Do you have difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor's office or shopping, because of physical, mental, or emotional condition?
  • Do you live in a single-family home or an apartment?
  • What is your employer’s name?  What is your job title?
  • Do you smoke or vape?
  • Are you obese?

The lawmakers say some other states only need a name, address, phone, email, and insurance information. Agencies within the federal government that are administering vaccines also aren't asking for the information either, the lawmakers say.

On its website, the state says the program is voluntary to enter and the data allows the state to know whether you are eligible to pre-register for vaccination opportunities.

According to the website, data provided through the survey will be kept safely under the state data practices laws and be used by state workers and health care workers involved in the vaccination process.

Currently, the state is still in its first stages of vaccinations but has started plans for the next phases.