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Unique Health ID creation is voluntary and consensual, government claims in Parliament

India’s vaccine portal caused a stir when beneficiaries were surprised to know that they had signed up for a new ID.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on November 30 said that the creation of Unique Health IDs through vaccinations on CoWIN was consent-based, in response to a Rajya Sabha question on health ID provision through Covid-19 vaccinations.

“Yes, there is a provision to issue Unique Health IDs (UHIDs) through COVID-19 vaccination certificates through Co-WIN for those vaccinated beneficiaries who have provided Aadhaar as Prescribed Photo ID Document during verification prior to vaccination and authenticated using Aadhaar along with consent to generate Unique Health ID (UHID)” — Minister of State for MoHFW

In its response, the MoHFW also cited consent recorded for the same through the vaccinator module of the CoWIN platform – it is to be noted that this is only visible on the vaccinator module and not the user-facing beneficiary module of CoWIN.

There have been reported instances of individuals being misled into believing Aadhaar-based authentication was compulsory for vaccination which notably is a prerequisite to letting the government issue Health IDs to individuals. In October, a petition was filed before the Supreme Court to disallow mandatory Aadhaar-based authentication for vaccination.

Consent details recorded on CoWIN vaccinator module

In its response to TMC MP Md. Nadimul Haque’s question, the MoHFW reproduces the terms of consent recorded for UHID creation.

Voluntary and consensual use of Aadhaar: “I, hereby declare that I am voluntarily sharing my Aadhaar Number / Virtual ID issued by UIDAI, with National Health Authority (NHA) for the sole purpose of creation of Health ID,” the statement says, adding that the user is aware that the UHID can be used for any healthcare interaction across the country. It also says that the beneficiary authorises the NHA to store their e-KYC details i.e Name, Address, Age, Date of Birth, Gender and Photograph which can be later shared with various entities that are part of the National Digital Health Ecosystem.

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Informed about alternatives: The beneficiary has been informed about the option to use other IDs, and not Aadhaar, for their vaccination, the statement says.

The choice to opt-out: Lastly, it says that the beneficiary is aware of their right to revoke the given consent at any point of time from the National Health Authority (NHA) at their own discretion.

The user-facing side of CoWIN used to make vaccination slot bookings, does not have something like this. However, the platform has, in its terms and conditions, a clause that says that by using Aadhaar-based authentication, consent for the creation of UHID is given.

Full text of the question and answer

Question:

(a) Whether it is a fact that unique Health IDs have already been issued through COVID-19 vaccination certificates;

(b) Whether various COVID-19 related medical history such as testing history, place of residence etc are being stored by Government;

(c) Whether consent has been sought from patients for providing Health IDs or for storing sensitive medical and personal information, as is required by the National Digital Mission; and

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(d) If so, the details thereof, if not, the reasons therefor?

Answer:

(a)  Yes, there is a provision to issue Unique Health IDs (UHIDs) through COVID-19 vaccination certificates through Co-WIN for those vaccinated beneficiaries who have provided Aadhaar as Prescribed Photo ID Document during verification prior to vaccination and authenticated using Aadhaar along with consent to generate Unique Health ID (UHID). This feature is purely optional. For generating a UHID the beneficiary need to be authenticated through any of the means for Aadhar authentication (OTP, demographic, biometric) at the time of verification at the vaccination center.

(b)  COVID-19 related medical history is not part of the details taken during registration for COVID-19 vaccination and, therefore, not stored on Co-WIN portal.

(c) Yes, due consent has been sought & recorded on Co-WIN from the beneficiary who have provided Aadhaar as Prescribed Photo ID Document during verification prior to vaccination using Aadhaar authentication.

(d) The following consent from beneficiary has been obtained & recorded at the vaccinator module of Co-WIN from the beneficiary for generation of UHID:

“I, hereby declare that I am voluntarily sharing my Aadhaar Number / Virtual ID issued by UIDAI, with National Health Authority (NHA) for the sole purpose of creation of Health ID. I understand my Health ID can be used in any healthcare interaction across India. I authorize NHA to use my Aadhaar number / Virtual ID for performing Aadhaar based authentication with UIDAI and store my e-KYC (Name, Address, Age, Date of Birth, Gender and Photograph) information as per the provisions of Aadhaar Act, 2016 only for the stated purpose. I understand that UIDAI will share my e-KYC details with NHA on successful authentication.

I have been duly informed about the option of KYC without using my Aadhaar details and through use of other Govt. issued IDs and its associated details shall be stored by NHA for the purpose of creation of Health ID.

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I consciously choose to use Aadhaar number / Virtual ID for the purpose of availing benefits across National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE). I am aware that my e-KYC information (Name, Address, Age, Date of Birth, Gender and Photograph) excluding Aadhaar number / VID number will be made available to the entities working in the NDHM framework for enabling the healthcare services to me across National Digital Health Ecosystem(NDHE). I reserve the right to revoke the given consent at any point of time from National Health Authority (NHA) at my own discretion.”

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama, among other things. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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