No, asking your vaccination status is not a HIPAA violation
Mike Seals - August 3, 2021 11:16 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – There are many misconceptions when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations – including the fact about sharing your vaccination status with others.
It’s technically not a HIPAA violation.
“It’s a common misconception that the act of asking about your vaccination status might be in and of itself a HIPAA breach, and it really isn’t,” said Attorney Adam Childers, Co-Chair of Labor and Employment at Crowe and Dunlevy.
It’s a question that you could be hearing more and more of if you haven’t already, “are you vaccinated?”
Of course, you do not have to disclose that information, but asking is not a violation of HIPAA.
“A lot of a lot of employers kind of return-to-work models are based on gathering data, and one of the most important pieces of that data is how much of our work force is vaccinated?” said Childers, “I think it gets conflated, with ‘you can’t ask me anything about my medical information unless I sign a form or I give you explicit approval,’ and that’s not really the way it works particularly in the workforce.”
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and was passed back in 1996.
The CDC says it was created to protect certain health information, and primarily applies only to specific health care entities.
“You can ask, but you don’t have to tell, and if you do tell then you are giving a certain amount of latitude to the employer to use that information,” said Childers.
Childers said that, for some employers, that information could be crucial to getting back to work.
However, if you are asking, you need to have safeguards in place.
“You need to articulate to your employees why you need that information, you need to safeguard it, keep it confidential on a need-to-know basis,” he said.
He says there are always dangers with sharing personal information, which is why tight policies are a must.
“What you don’t want is nosy employees getting into other people’s business and then causing more harm than good,” he said.