By Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz

THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) advised the Department of Health (DoH) to be “circumspect” in providing the master list of children inoculated with Dengvaxia to entities requesting copies.

In an advisory opinion dated Feb. 26 addressed to DoH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, Privacy Commissioner and Chairman Raymund Enriquez Liboro said the personal information of the children “is considered sensitive personal information as defined in Section 3(1) of the DPA (Data Privacy Act of 2012), particularly those relating to the individual’s age, health, and health record (vaccination card and status of being vaccinated).”

Mr. Liboro said this after Mr. Duque sought clarification from the NPC if DoH could provide the master list to the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), and members of the media, which are all seeking copies.

The NPC commissioner added that the information pertains to “vulnerable group of data subject — minors.”

But Mr. Liboro also noted that the information may be lawfully provided to PAO if it is “authorized as legal representative of the minor data subjects.”

PAO provides legal assistance to families of some of the children who received the controversial anti-dengue vaccine, which as its manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, reported in November last year, could cause a more severe strain of the virus for seronegative patients.

For other private organizations and media requesting the master list, Mr. Liboro said “the disclosure of statistical or aggregated information without including any personal or sensitive personal information should suffice.”

“We urge the DoH to be circumspect in releasing information relating to sensitive personal information of individuals. It should do so only if it is satisfied that such release is authorized under law, adheres to data privacy principles, and reasonable and appropriate security measures are in place for the protection of said data,” Mr. Liboro said.

PAO is currently conducting its own investigation of the children who may have died as a result of the anti-dengue vaccine. VACC, on the other hand, sued former president Benigno S.C. Aquino III, former Health secretary Janette L. Garin, and several executives of Sanofi Pasteur and DoH in connection with alleged irregularities in the procurement of Dengvaxia,

Last December, the DoH stopped the dengue immunization program, following Sanofi Pasteur’s advisory. The Health department said about 830,000 children, mostly from the National Capital Region, Central Luzon (Region III), and Calabarzon (Region IV), and some 4.400 members of the Philippine National Police and their dependents received the vaccine.