(a) The department shall, by legislative rule, provide for the disclosure of confidential information contained in vital records and reports for statistical research purposes. The legislative rule must require the submission of written requests for information and the execution of research agreements between the researcher and the State Registrar or local custodian of vital records and reports, which prohibit the release by the researcher of any information that may identify any person except as provided in the agreement.
(b) To protect the integrity and to ensure the proper use of vital records or reports, and to ensure the efficient and proper operation of the system of vital statistics, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose, confidential information contained in vital records or reports, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any vital record or report unless authorized by this article, by legislative rule or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction: Provided, That nothing in this article prohibits the release of information or data that would not identify any person named in a vital record or report.
(c) Appeals from decisions of the custodians of permanent local records refusing to disclose confidential information, or to permit inspection of or copying of confidential information under the authority of this section and legislative rules shall be made to the State Registrar, whose decisions shall be binding upon the local custodians of permanent local records.
(d) When one hundred years have elapsed after the date of birth, or fifty years have elapsed after the date of death, fetal death, marriage, or divorce or annulment, the records of these events in the custody of the State Registrar and local custodians shall, become available to the public without restriction unless otherwise prohibited or restricted by law, except for the release of social security numbers recorded on certificates or reports of birth, marriage, fetal death, or divorce, in accordance with legislative rule: Provided, That confidential information contained in the "Information for Medical and Health Use Only" section of the certificate of birth or report of fetal death shall never become available to the public.
(e) The federal agency responsible for national vital statistics may be furnished copies of records, reports, or data from the system of vital statistics as it may require for national statistics. The department shall enter into an agreement with the federal agency indicating the statistical or research purposes for which records, reports, or data may be used, and setting forth the support to be provided by the federal agency for the collection, processing and transmission of the records, reports or data. Upon written request, the State Registrar may approve, in writing, additional statistical or research uses of the records, reports or data supplied under the agreement.
(f) The State Registrar may furnish copies of records or data from the system of vital statistics to federal, state and local governmental agencies, provided that the copies or data are used solely in the conduct of their official duties.
(g) The State Registrar may, by agreement, transmit copies of records and other reports required by this article to offices of vital statistics outside this state when the records or other reports relate to residents of those jurisdictions or persons born in those jurisdictions. The agreement must specify the statistical and administrative purposes for which the records may be used and must provide instructions for the proper retention and disposition of the copies. Copies received by the section of vital statistics from offices of vital statistics in other states must be handled in the same manner as prescribed in this section.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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