Contrary to popular belief, HIPAA does not prevent employers and businesses from asking their employees whether they’ve received the Covid-19 vaccination. They may also request proof of vaccination.
With that said, changing state and federal regulations can make it difficult to know how employers must handle this information. The situation becomes even more complex when you consider that each employer and business will likely have its own specific policy.
Here’s what employers can and can’t do.
What Employers Can Ask About The Covid-19 Vaccination
Based on guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal EEO laws do not prevent employers from requiring employees who physically enter the workplace to receive Covid-19 vaccination. Additionally, employers may ask employees about vaccination status and request proof.
More clearly, under current regulations, an employer may ask:
- If an employee has been vaccinated
- When they were vaccinated
- How many doses of a vaccine a person has received
Once an employer has obtained this information, they are required to keep it confidential and not share it with other employees.
What About HIPPA?
In our pandemic era, many people have misinterpreted the guidelines of HIPAA to mean that they don’t have to follow Covid-related protocols; however, HIPAA does not prevent employers from asking both employees and workplace visitors about vaccination status.
When enacted in 1996, HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, required HHS to create standards for the electronic exchange, privacy, and security of health information. In what is known as the Privacy Rule–the organization governs the ways in which covered entities (including businesses) may use and disclose personal health information.
So while HIPAA would prevent employers from openly sharing vaccine information, the policy in no way prevents employers from requesting this information.
Actions Employers Can Take
In many cases, employers can take strict action in response to employees refusing to either obtain a vaccine or disclose their vaccination status. In fact, the vast majority of states are at-will employment states, meaning that employers may terminate employees at any time for any reason, excluding conflicts with state and federal laws.
Even if a workplace institutes a mandatory vaccination policy, there are still some exceptions. Certain disabilities, pre-existing conditions, and religious beliefs can prevent people from obtaining the Covid-19 vaccination. In these cases, a business must make reasonable accommodations, such as allowing a person to work from home.
Make It Easier
As more and more enterprises implement new testing and vaccine policies, it’s becoming important for employees to have easy access to their own status. In addition to workplaces, restaurants, gyms, and medical facilities now commonly request Covid-related health documents for entry. And while vaccine cards might have held up for a period, it’s now clear that we need a more permanent and adaptable solution.
With ConfirmD, a digital Covid-19 platform, you can easily keep track of your vaccination and testing data on your smartphone. By downloading the ConfirmD app, users can upload both vaccination and testing records and receive a unique QR code. When scanned, this code provides quick access to your Covid-related health records, even if they’re from different healthcare providers.
Most importantly, ConfirmD stores your data in an environment compliant with both HIPAA and CCPA guidelines, ensuring that your personal health information is secure.