HIPAA has been around for a quarter century, but confusion continues as to its scope and applicability. The COVID pandemic, surge in Delta variant cases, and increasing number of employer and government vaccine mandates has triggered a new wave of interest in other people’s’ vaccination status. Many people are surprised to learn that HIPAA does not prevent you from asking or answering the question “Are you vaccinated?”
Fellow Fox partner Bill Maruca was recently interviewed by his local (Pittsburgh) NPR affiliate in this piece: UPMC’s New CEO Says No Vaccine Mandates, Will Focus On Education.
Here’s an excerpt:
There have been questions, and misunderstandings about what is and isn’t legal for an employer, healthcare provider or even individual to know about others’ vaccination status. For example, Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has said reporters asking about her vaccine status is a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
That’s absolutely wrong,” says Bill Maruca, an attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP and expert in health care laws, including HIPAA.
If they were to ask her doctor if she was vaccinated, that would be covered by HIPAA and her doctor would not be permitted to reveal that information. … Asking her directly is not a HIPAA violation, but she doesn’t have to answer.”