Asking About Vaccination Status Doesn't Violate Privacy Laws; Answering Is a Choice

Although it is a person’s choice to answer if they are vaccinated or not, an employer can fire you, and it is a business’ choice to keep you out of their premises or ask you to mask up

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Health officials and legal experts are dispelling a misunderstanding about asking about COVID-19 vaccination status.

There have been false claims that asking for proof of vaccination is a violation of the federal law restricting release of medical information.

A Northern Virginia parent recently discussed the issues pertaining to the misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccinations and questions about privacy laws and coronavirus vaccination status.

“I also believe it’s a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) violation to, you know, really ask children their vaccine status,” Gina Wisor said.

Even on Capitol Hill, Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green responded to a journalist asking if she is vaccinated.

“Your first question is a violation of my HIPAA rights. You see, with HIPAA rights, we don’t have to reveal our medical records and that also involves our vaccine records,” Green said.

Only part of that statement is true.

The law prohibits a third party, like a hospital or insurance company, from sharing your health information without your consent.

“If there’s an organization asking an individual, it’s up to that individual as to whether they would provide the information or not,” said Dr. Anne Gaddy, director of Alexandria City Health.

A business or employer can ask for vaccination status and proof. Sharing it is a choice.

Businesses can turn people away who are unvaccinated or cannot show a vaccination card.

Democratic Virginia State Sen. George Barker said employers can legally fire workers for those same reasons.

“In Virginia, at least, and probably in most states around the country, the employer has the right to terminate an employee for not providing something that is relevant to the safety of the workplace,” Barker said.

Businesses have rights to make requirements, too.

Correction (July 23 at 10:20 a.m.): This article has been updated with the correct acronym for HIPAA.

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