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Does asking for proof of COVID vaccination violate your medical privacy?

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 3:23 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - As mask mandates ease, you’re more likely to be asked for proof of vaccination by businesses. But you may be wondering: does that violate your medical privacy, or HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. While it was created in 1996 to protect your health information, it doesn’t apply here.

Say you’re getting a quick workout at the gym or planning on attending Watertown’s Concert in the Park. You’ll likely be asked for proof of vaccination.

If you think it’s in violation of your rights, experts say: think again.

“That would not be considered a HIPAA violation,” said Maureen McGlynn, a Syracuse healthcare attorney.

She says HIPAA applies to health insurance providers and other healthcare-related industries.

“That would be your physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, dentist, physical therapist. Most healthcare providers would fall into this class,” said McGlynn.

Essentially, HIPAA does not apply to the average person outside of healthcare. So, businesses have the right to ask you for proof of vaccination.

Whether you choose to give them that information is up to you. Just know you may have to do business elsewhere.

Or if you want to go to the Concert in the Park, you’ll need a negative COVID-19 test to get in.

“As of right now, unless we some changes in the law, entities like a restaurant can, if they choose, to require proof of vaccination. If someone doesn’t provide that, then they’d have to choose another restaurant to go to,” said McGlynn.

To reiterate, only people with access to your medical information or who work directly with your medical records can violate HIPAA if they disclose that information without your consent.

A business or even your employer can ask you for proof of vaccination.

Whether you tell them or not is a different story, but they are within their legal right to ask.

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