Does HIPAA prohibit questions about vaccination?
As noted, HIPAA doesn’t prevent anyone from asking you about your vaccination status. And there’s nothing in it that prohibits businesses, such as restaurants, gyms, or movie theaters, or your employer from asking you for proof of vaccination. Finally, HIPAA privacy rules do not prevent you from answering questions about whether you’ve been vaccinated.
It’s your decision to tell others whether or not you’ve been vaccinated (and regardless of whether you divulge this information, I hope the answer is yes). Of course, if you decide not to disclose that information to your employer, you will likely be considered unvaccinated, and that could lead to changes in how or where you work, or even to loss of your job. But again, that’s unrelated to HIPAA.
If a friend, a relative, or a perfect stranger asks you about your vaccination history, or any other question about your health, you may consider it rude, nosy, or inappropriate. But it’s not illegal. And if you choose not to answer, don’t blame HIPAA.
By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
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