Is Asking About Your Vaccination Status a HIPAA Violation?
Medically Reviewed by Baptist Health
As efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic continue, it’s become common for businesses to inquire about the vaccination status of their employees and customers. They do this to help create and maintain safe environments for working, shopping, dining, etc.
However, some people have questioned whether it’s a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ask whether a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19. The short answer is that it is not a HIPAA violation to ask about COVID vaccination status.
A Quick Overview of HIPAA
HIPAA became law in 1996. It covers several aspects of healthcare.
People are most familiar with aspects of the law regarding medical information privacy. This includes the fact that healthcare providers, plans, and others that store personal information can’t share it without your permission. The law covers things like any mental or physical health conditions you’ve been diagnosed with, the care you’ve received, payments you’ve made for the care you’ve received, and general information like your name, address, Social Security number, etc.
It’s important to note that it’s healthcare providers (individuals and entities) that can’t share your information. That means, they can’t answer questions about whether you’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 or any other disease. But others, like employers and business owners, aren’t covered by HIPAA requirements.
Don’t take a chance with your health.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection and end the pandemic. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19, but it can help protect you from serious illness. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and make a vaccination appointment at a location near you.
HIPAA Doesn’t Address Questions from Employers or Businesses
Contrary to what some people believe, businesses and individuals aren’t prevented from asking about your COVID-19 vaccination status. Also, they aren’t prevented from asking for proof that you’ve been vaccinated.
It’s up to you whether you provide the information they’re asking for. If you choose not to, you may be required to wear a face mask. Face mask requirements, like questions about vaccination status, don’t violate HIPAA.
In addition, employers can require that employees be vaccinated. However, they must make accommodations for people who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons or choose not to be vaccinated for religious reasons — and they may not ask why a person isn’t vaccinated.
It’s also possible that proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be (or already is) required for travel within or outside of the U.S.
Vaccination Is the Best Way to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
Actions like wearing a mask when appropriate, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding crowded spaces are important in the fight against COVID-19. But getting vaccinated is the best way to keep the virus from spreading. If you haven’t been vaccinated, make an appointment today.
Next Steps and Useful Resources