Hipaa And Its Purpose
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was created primarily to modernize the flow of healthcare information, stipulate how personally identifiable information maintained by the healthcare and healthcare insurance industries should be protected from fraud and theft, and address limitations on healthcare insurance coverage.
Personal details such as whether or not an individual has been vaccinated against COVID-19 comes within the provision of care classification of health information that should be protected when it can be combined with other personal details that can identify the individual. Protected health information is commonly referred to as PHI.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule limits uses and disclosures of individuals PHI to uses and disclosures required for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. Other uses and disclosures generally require consent to be provided by the individual in writing. However, HIPAA only applies to certain organizations and businesses. So how does HIPAA relate to requests for proof of vaccine status?
If I Choose Not To Have The Covid
Your reasons for choosing to not have the COVID-19 vaccination and medical evidence related to this decision is also considered to be sensitive information under the Privacy Act. As with vaccination status information, your employer can generally only collect this information with your consent, and the collection must be reasonably necessary for your employers functions or activities.
However, if there is an Australian law such as a public health order or direction that requires your employer to collect your vaccination status information and reasons for non-vaccination, you may be required to provide your employer with your reasons or medical evidence exempting you from vaccination. The information collected should be limited to what is specified in the relevant law, or to what is reasonably necessary in circumstances where it is collected by consent.
Employers Can Collect Information About Their Employees Vaccination Status For A Lawful Purpose
Employers may ask employees whether they have been vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination so long as they consider there is a lawful purpose to collect this information. This could be where work can only be done by a vaccinated worker under a Government mandate, for health and safety reasons, or to meet a vaccination requirement imposed by a third party.
Employees do not have to disclose their personal vaccination status. If they choose not to disclose their vaccination status, employers may assume they are unvaccinated, but must inform workers that they will make this assumption, and what it may mean for their employment, in advance.
Employees cannot be redeployed or disadvantaged for refusing to disclose their vaccination status, unless the work they are doing cannot be done by unvaccinated employees.
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What If My Friend Tells Me They Are An Anti
Philosophical differences about the vaccine can be just as detrimental as ideological differences about the economy, national politics, and religion, Scholz said. We have a few options: We can treat the vaccine the same way we do politics at the Thanksgiving table. Dont talk about it. And if you feel unsafe around that problem, default to keeping your interactions virtual.
The problem with that dictum, Scholz said, is there is an acknowledgment that people you see around the Thanksgiving table are people you see once a year and arent the close friends with whom you are trying to reconnect. So, Scholz said, not being able to discuss things that really matter to you like how we have fared during the pandemic will feel inauthentic.
If this is really bothering you, you can always put the friendship on hiatus until you feel comfortable that the threat has been further mitigated. But if you really value this friendship, you should make it a point to communicate carefully, gracefully, and clearly about your feelings, Scholz said. After the pandemic ends, there may come a day when you will miss your friend.
‘i Have Young Kids At Home Who Can’t Be Vaccinated And I’m Really Worried About Them’
Some people may have very specific reasons for getting vaccinated, Brewer says. For example, you may want to help protect the people in your life who are ineligible to be vaccinated like children under age 12 or have medical conditions that make them immunocompromised.
While you may not be comfortable sharing your family’s personal health history with your whole company, try sharing one or two of your own reasons when asking about a coworker’s vaccination status, Brewer says. For example, you could say: “My father had a kidney transplant and is immunocompromised, so the vaccines are less effective for him. Because I spend so much time with him, I feel extra responsible especially given all these recent breakthrough cases.”
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Why Is Vaccine Etiquette So Important
Even though it feels like the pandemic is in our rearview windows, its important to remember that it is still an ever-present part of our realityespecially given new concerning strains such as the Delta variant. Therefore, it is important for brides and grooms especially to be aware of vaccine protocols. We all witnessed over the past year that awareness of the disease and its potentially deadly effects were not necessarily well believed and sometimes came down to what side of the aisle you are on politically, says Oniki Hardtman, wedding planner and owner of in South Florida and New York City. As it comes to weddings and events, you still want to show compassion for at-risk guests to ensure everyone attending that you are mindfully aware of what is going on in the world and not wanting to intentionally put anyone at risk.
What If Were Uncomfortable Talking About It
Ravitsky acknowledged its an extremely difficult conversation to have.
I completely understand, I too have unvaccinated friends, she said.
Still, she says the exchange is worth it, as it can mean saving lives since the majority of new deaths from COVID-19 are people who have not been vaccinated.
Each person we manage to convince is a life potentially saved, she said.
Whats most important is showing empathy and considering the point of view of the other person. Its important to understand where their hesitancy comes from, and to maintain a respectful tone and attitude.
She admits theres little chance convincing someone whos been opposed to vaccination from the start. But if we discuss the subject with someone who is waiting or who has specific concerns, it will lead to a more reasonable debate.
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What If Im The One Being Invited Out
This is a trickier situation. If your friend suggests a restaurant, ask them if there is outdoor seating. That might prompt them to be transparent about their vaccine situation, Scholz said. If they dont pick up the hint, and insist on indoor options, you might be more comfortable declining the offer. This is where public health ethics and social ethics are converging, Scholz said. We feel an obligation to meet people halfway. But right now public health ethics trumps social ethics. So while it might not be OK to ask them if theyve been vaccinated, its not rude to turn the invitation down if you dont feel you have adequate information to make a decision thats in the best interest of your health.
This is where public health ethics and social ethics are converging.
Sally Scholz, chair and professor of philosophy and ethics at Villanova University
Does Hipaa Protect Vaccination Status
For a rule thats been around so long, its remarkable that HIPAA has been so misunderstood and so frequently featured in the news lately. For example:
- Asked if shed been vaccinated against COVID-19, a member of Congress from Georgia replied, “Your 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 includes our vaccine records.” Sorry, wrong.
- An NFL quarterback asked the same question responded in similar style: “I dont necessarily think thats exactly important I think thats HIPAA.” Again, wrong.
- When President Biden proposed having public health workers canvass neighborhoods door-to-door to encourage unvaccinated persons to get a COVID vaccine, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina declared this plan was illegal due to HIPAA rules. Nope, it’s not illegal and HIPAA doesnt cover this.
And its not just athletes and lawmakers getting it wrong with HIPAA and vaccination status. Throughout the pandemic, fake mask exemption cards have been available online. These cards are intended to allow the owner to forego wearing a mask for medical reasons. Some fake cards state that because of HIPAA, the cards owner is not required to answer any questions about their medical condition.
Unfortunately, as with the examples above, this misunderstands what HIPAA covers and what it requires.
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What If Someone Tells You They Refuse To Get Vaccinated
This can be one of the most difficult situations to deal with whether with family or friends.
In Canada, vaccine uptake is quite strong. According to the most recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute, 71 per cent of Canadians have either had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or would like to be inoculated as soon as possible.
But in some parts of the country, there is greater hesitancy. In Alberta, for example, about 30 per cent of people say they will not be vaccinated or are unsure about it roughly double the national average of 16 per cent.
Viswanath says if someone is firmly opposed to the vaccine, it’s probably not worth trying to convince them. But if they are simply hesitant about the COVID-19 shot, he advises patience and openness. Listen to them and find out what their concern is.
“They may have concerns that you try to address as best as you can,” he said.
“You just have to keep engaging them. I really, really strongly believe this,” he said. “This is a time when you can’t turn your back away from people…. They will be receptive at some point.”
‘we’re Sitting Close Here In Our Shared Office Do You Mind If I Ask If You’re Vaccinated Or Not’
It’s particularly natural to inquire about your work environment’s safety if you share an office with another person. Brewer recommends expressing that you’re concerned about your proximity to other people, since the risk of Covid transmission is significantly higher in indoor settings.
If someone doesn’t want to share their vaccination record, you should behave as though that person is unvaccinated, Althoff advises. That could mean wearing a mask anywhere in the office or physically moving elsewhere to maintain social distance, since vaccinated people can still get infected with and transmit Covid’s delta variant.
“People who go into work should carefully evaluate their own personal safety,” Brewer says.
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What This Means For You
If someone asks you about your COVID-19 vaccination status, that is not a HIPAA violation. HIPAA only protects the use or disclosure of certain health information by covered entities. Companies, schools, airlines, or other institutions are well within their rights to ask you whether youve been vaccinated or not, and its still up to you whether you will disclose it.
Can An Employer Ask For Proof Of Vaccination
Employers have a duty of care under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to provide a safe workplace for employees. To fulfill the duty of care, an employer can ask for proof of vaccination against COVID-19 subject to the EEOC guidelines discussed above and state legislation. If an employee is unable or unwilling to provide proof of vaccination, the employer may be entitled to enforce workplace safety policies such as mask wearing or social distancing.
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Federal Law Supports Vaccine Mandates
Regardless of how you approach this, compliance with federal law allows you to mandate Covid vaccination as long as you allow exemptions for medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs. If you’re a federal contractor, you must come into compliance and have all employees vaccinated by December.
The courts have consistently upheld a business’s right to mandate vaccines for employees as long as you have the proper exceptions for religion and medical issues.
Employment attorney and Fisher Broyles partner Eric Meyer says that courts don’t generally second-guess company safety protocols, so even if you aren’t subject to the federal mandate, you can feel confident that a court would uphold your mandate.
For Everyone To Remain Mindful That People’s Own Health Choices
Your wedding day is not the time nor the place for guests to debate the origins of COVID-19 or the efficacy of swallowing bleach to cure it, says Hess. He recommends sending the messageideally on your wedding websitethat you would prefer that the topic of COVID be off the menu for dinner time conversation. This might help avoid awkward conversations and help people focus on the bride and groom,” he adds.
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Is It A Hipaa Violation To Ask About Someones Vaccination Status
Asking for the status is not in itself a HIPAA violation since no PHI has been disclosed, Jonathan Ishee, JD, MPH, MS, LLM, assistant professor of biomedical informatics at the University of Texas, tells Verywell. A violation would only occur if a covered entity discloses PHI to an unauthorized person without your consent.
Anyone can ask your healthcare provider about your vaccination status, but it would only be a violation if they disclose it without permission. When non-covered entities such as family or friends ask you directly about your status, thats not a violation. You are also allowed to disclose that information yourself.
Americans often think the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of their health data in many settings in which it does not apply, Hodge says. If you tell your neighbor about your COVID-19 vaccination status, the Rule does not apply. If you tell your employer about it, again the Rule does not apply directly.
B Confidentiality Of Medical Information
With limited exceptions, the ADA requires employers to keep confidential any medical information they learn about any applicant or employee. Medical information includes not only a diagnosis or treatments, but also the fact that an individual has requested or is receiving a reasonable accommodation.
B.1. May an employer store in existing medical files information it obtains related to COVID-19, including the results of taking an employee’s temperature or the employee’s self-identification as having this disease, or must the employer create a new medical file system solely for this information?
The ADA requires that all medical information about a particular employee be stored separately from the employee’s personnel file, thus limiting access to this confidential information. An employer may store all medical information related to COVID-19 in existing medical files. This includes an employee’s statement that the employee has the disease or suspects so, or the employer’s notes or other documentation from questioning an employee about symptoms. For information on confidentiality and COVID-19 vaccinations, see K.4.
B.2. If an employer requires all employees to have a daily temperature check before entering the workplace, may the employer maintain a log of the results?
Yes. The employer needs to maintain the confidentiality of this information.
B.3. May an employer disclose the name of an employee to a public health agency when it learns that the employee has COVID-19?
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Have Compassion For Your Friend No Matter Their Response
It feels like theres a mind-blowing amount of information coming out about COVID every day. For example: Just the other day, I read about cancer survivors whose immune systems were wiped out by their treatments. Though they were vaccinated, it didnt take their cancer treatment left their bodies unable to produce antibodies to fend off the disease.
Before you judge a friend or family member for not getting vaccinated yet, consider that they might have hidden health issues that you didnt know about that could be making their decision to get the vaccine much more complicated than yours.
Understand that people approach this from different vantage points with different kinds of information, the American Psychological Associations Lynn Bufka told USA Today. There could be reasons that we never thought of.
Employer Incentives For Covid
ADA: Employer Incentives for Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccinations
K.16. Does the ADA limit the value of the incentive employers may offer to employees for voluntarily receiving a COVID-19 vaccination from a health care provider that is not affiliated with their employer ?
No. The ADA does not limit the incentives an employer may offer to encourage employees to voluntarily receive a COVID-19 vaccination, or to provide confirmation of vaccination, if the health care provider administering a COVID-19 vaccine is not the employer or its agent. By contrast, if an employer offers an incentive to employees to voluntarily receive a vaccination administered by the employer or its agent, the ADAs rules on disability-related inquiries apply and the value of the incentive may not be so substantial as to be coercive. See K.17.
As noted in K 4., the employer is required to keep vaccination information confidential under the ADA.
K.17. Under the ADA, are there limits on the value of the incentive employers may offer to employees for voluntarily receiving a COVID-19 vaccination administered by the employer or its agent?
GINA: Employer Incentives for Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccinations
K.18. Does GINA limit the value of the incentive employers may offer employees if employees or their family members get a COVID-19 vaccination from a health care provider that is not affiliated with the employer ?
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