Fact Check: U.S. Census Bureau And CDC Did NOT Share Private Data With County Health Officials To Enforce Vaccinations

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: U.S. Census Bureau And CDC Did NOT Share Private Data With County Health Officials To Enforce Vaccinations Did Not Share

Did the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) share private data with county health officials in Kentucky to target individuals for COVID-19 vaccination? No, that's not true: the Census Bureau and the CDC responded to Lead Stories' inquiry to say it cannot and did not share personal census information with any other agency.The claim originated from a website that tells its readers, "This website contains humor, parody, and satire." Lead Stories has debunked multiple false claims published on that site, Real Raw News.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by Real Raw News on September 17, 2021. The post, which was titled, "Census Data, CDC Database Expose Unvaccinated," opens:

On Saturday, September 11, 43-year-old Dale Oliver of Sandy Hook, Kentucky, was engaged in his typical weekend ritual--watching college football on TV--when he heard a knock on his front door. Upon opening it, he found himself face-to-face with two uninvited guests, representatives of Elliott County Health Department. They wished to speak to him about his vaccination status.

"It's come to our attention your family has not been vaccinated. May we come in?" one health official said, according to Mr. Oliver.

This is how the article looked on September 21, 2021:

Census Data, CDC Database Expose Unvaccinated - Real Raw News

On Saturday, September 11, 43-year-old Dale Oliver of Sandy Hook, Kentucky, was engaged in his typical weekend ritual--watching college football on TV--when he heard a knock on his front door. Upon opening it, he found himself face-to-face with two uninvited guests, representatives of Elliott County Health Department. They wished to speak to him about his [...]

The article continued:

The CDC and county health officials have obtained 2020 Census records to enhance their vaccination enforcement protocols.

In response to Lead Stories' inquiry about the purported Sandy Hook, Kentucky, incident, the Census Bureau replied with a September 21, 2021, email and promised to also post the agency's reply on the page where it addresses rumors. On that page ("Fighting Census Rumors") the agency knocked the claim, writing:

No. The law prevents the Census Bureau from sharing your information with any local, state, or federal health officials. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency in any way. Your answers are used only to create statistics about our country. The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to protect your personal information--every answer, to every question--and keep it strictly confidential.

Enacted in 1954, Title 13 of the U.S. Code states explicitly that Census Bureau employees are sworn to protect confidentiality, and violating the law is a federal crime.

Lead Stories also received a response from Scott Pauley, a press officer at the CDC, via email on September 22, 2021, stating:

There is no capability to make this detailed connection for vaccination status for CDC or its state health department partners. While current efforts are underway to encourage those who have yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19, we are not using private information to determine who is or is not vaccinated in these efforts.

An additional Google search using the key terms "U.S. Census Bureau and CDC Did Share Private Data With County Health Officials to Enforce Vaccinations" did not produce any results that would support the claim that Kentuckians' census data had been leaked.

Real Raw News has established a track record of publishing false claims in mock news stories, many of them about convictions and executions of various public figures at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. For example, the site reported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hanged (she wasn't); former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta was executed (he wasn't); and that "the military" convicted former Attorney General William Barr on charges of treason (it didn't).

The website for Real Raw News includes a disclaimer that warns readers not to take its content too seriously. Specifically, it says:

Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. This website contains humor, parody, and satire. We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice on legal counsel.

Real Raw snip.jpg

(Source: RealRawNews.com screenshot taken Tue Aug 3 16:39:48 UTC 2021)

Lead Stories has covered claims published by Real Raw News in the past. Previous Lead Stories debunks of Real Raw News items is collected here.

Updates:

  • 2021-09-23T18:37:26Z 2021-09-23T18:37:26Z
    This article was updated September 23, 2021, to include a response from the CDC.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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