Oregon’s central administrative agency inadvertently disclosed the vaccination status of more than 40,000 state employees to The Oregonian/OregonLive and another outlet on Monday.
A spreadsheet sent to news outlets was supposed to contain the latest vaccination rates and vaccine exemption rates for every executive agency overseen by Governor Kate Brown, who in August mandated many state employees to get vaccinated by Monday. The Oregonian/OregonLive recently requested daily updates from the state, but only aggregate numbers for each agency.
Instead, Oregon Department of Administrative Services Director of External Relations Adam Crawford emailed a file to The Oregonian/OregonLive and the Salem Statesman Journal on Monday containing vaccination status by name for all Executive branch employees: if verified as vaccinated, received a medical or religious exemption, their vaccination record or exemption request is still being processed, or they have not provided any information.
Crawford took the blame for releasing the data. “It was a mistake on my part,” he said in a phone call.
Ben Morris, a spokesperson for SEIU 503, said the release of information violates an agreement the union signed with the state in September that required the state to keep individuals’ vaccination information confidential.
But Morris said that “even more concerning is that one of the main things we heard from members who were hesitant to get vaccinated is that they were concerned about their privacy in this situation. It’s a breach of trust at the worst possible time.
Morris said the union still decides how to respond.
The Oregonian/OregonLive will not publish the full dataset online, as it does with other state employee datasets such as public employee salary and pension information.
The data shows, as reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, that major state agencies with low rates verified as vaccinated among their employees include the Oregon State Police (74%), the Department of Corrections (70%) and the Forestry Department (65%). . The Department of Corrections and the state police agency granted some of the highest rates of religious exemptions – 19% and 14% respectively.