A top U.S. health agency is refusing to identify which employees are working on vaccine safety teams, drawing criticism from watchdog groups.
The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a database in which people file reports of adverse events following vaccination. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) manages the database with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Epoch Times sought the names of employees on three CDC teams charged with analyzing data from VAERS, including a team that looks at data pertaining to post-vaccination heart inflammation. The CDC denied the request in full.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires agencies to comply with information requests but establishes exemptions that agencies can cite to withhold requested information. Roger Andoh, a CDC FOIA officer, cited an exemption that protects “personnel and medical files and similar files” if the disclosure of the files “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
“The information that has been withheld under Exemption 6 consists of employee names. We have determined that the individual(s) to whom this information pertains has a substantial privacy interest in withholding it,” Andoh wrote to The Epoch Times.
Calls for Transparency
Watchdog groups questioned the move.
“If Democrats and Republicans want the American people to trust government institutions, i.e. CDC, NIH [National Institutes of Health] and all the others, one would think members of Congress, agency bureaucrats, and the president’s administration would be motivated to start by offering transparency and eliminating the taxpayer’s justifiable questions and worries,” Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of OpenTheBooks.com, told The Epoch Times in an email.
“Not having the ability to see into the bureaucracy is troubling and these agencies are rife with conflicts of interest. Denying transparency to the public is never the answer.”
Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, noted that Americans’ trust in the government, and health agencies in particular, has declined during the pandemic, according to surveys.