With the CDC and Oregon announcing Friday fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, the focus has turned to businesses and how they’ll police the situation.
There’s been a lot of discussions online about whether businesses can ask residents for proof of vaccinations.
Many people claim the often misunderstood health privacy law HIPAA protects them from having to disclose that information to someone.
But University of Michigan Health law and medical ethics researcher Kayte Spector-Bagdady, J.D., M.Be, tells Central Oregon Daily News your health information isn’t as private as you think it is.
“People have this expectation that they have this general right of health privacy that isn’t necessarily true,” she said. “Individual businesses – so if I’m going into a clothing store and they ask me if I’m vaccinated, they have every right to ask me if I’ve been vaccinated. However, I also have every right to decline to give them that information.
“They can’t compel me to tell them whether I’m vaccinated or not. But if I don’t tell them then they have every right to tell me I don’t have the right to come in.”
Spector-Bagdady said HIPAA privacy rules almost exclusively apply to health entities like hospitals, or doctors.
“What HIPAA does is protects your doctor or health professionals from sharing your identified medical information…without your permission,” she said.
Spector-Bagdady, the former Associate Director for Obama’s Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, said she was concerned with what appeared to be a “Plan A” that puts the onus on businesses to determine who’s been vaccinated.
“What are individual sales clerks or the local high school kid who happens to be working at the front of the Gap – what are they supposed to be expected to do?” she said, adding that vaccination cards wouldn’t be hard to fake. “I don’t think this is the most reliable plan to ensure that the only people inside unmasked are those who are vaccinated.”