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Can You Require Proof of Vaccination?

Employers, schools, and even some private businesses are asking for proof of vaccination for COVID-19. However, some people may still not want to get vaccinated and do not want to be restricted in their right to choose what kind of health care they receive. Some people who have been vaccinated may not want to give their private information about vaccinations to others. This article provides an overview of what happens when a school, employer, or business asks for proof of vaccination.

Employment laws vary by state. If you are an employer considering requiring proof of vaccination for employees, contact an employment law attorney for advice. The legal rules for vaccination requirements may depend on the type of job, number of employees, and where the business is located. If you are an employer considering requiring proof of vaccination for employees, contact an employment law attorney for advice.

Can My Employer Require Proof of Vaccination?

Vaccination for employers has been a hot topic ever since the COVID-19 vaccines began to roll out. Since then, millions of people in the U.S. have received their first, second, and now third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Some private employers are requiring employees to be vaccinated in spite of the objections raised by some employees.

Under federal law, employers are allowed to ask job applicants and employees if they received COVID-19 vaccines. Employers may also be able to ask for evidence of the vaccination, such as a CDC vaccination card. According to guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), asking about a COVID-19 vaccination is not considered a disability-related inquiry under the ADA, and is not prohibited. However, an employee who is not vaccinated because of a disability may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation.

For example, under California employment guidance, for employers to allow fully vaccinated employees to work indoors without a face covering, vaccination status must be documented. In states like New Jersey, workers in health care and congregate settings have to submit proof of vaccination, including proof of booster shots, if eligible. However, each state has different vaccination laws.

Can Businesses Ask For Proof of Vaccination?

Some restaurants, bars, movie theatres, sports facilities, concert venues, and other business owners are asking customers to show proof of vaccine status or a negative COVID test in order to come inside. Under federal law, private businesses are not prohibited from asking for proof of vaccination status for customers.

In places like Washington, D.C., there is a temporary vaccine mandate for bars, restaurants, gyms, and other businesses where guests have to show proof of vaccine.

However, some states, such as Florida, have regulations that specifically prohibit private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination. If you have questions about vaccine passport restrictions for private companies, contact a lawyer in your state for advice.

Is It a HIPAA Violation To Ask for Proof of Vaccination?

Individuals have a right to privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA privacy laws protect a patient's medical information. HIPAA privacy rules generally apply to covered entities, which include health care providers and health insurance providers. Most employers and restaurants are not considered covered entities. If you believe your health care provider is violating HIPAA privacy laws, a health law attorney may be able to answer your specific questions.

Can a School Ask for Proof of Vaccine?

If a public school or private school has a mandatory vaccination policy, the school can generally require proof of vaccination. Unless students have been granted a medical or religious belief exemption, students have historically been required to show proof of vaccinations for more than 100 years, beginning with the smallpox vaccine mandate in U.S. schools in the 1800s. Common student vaccinations include:

  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Pertussis
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Polio
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
  • Hepatitis B

If you have questions about religious exemptions or medical exemptions for your college, university, or your child's elementary school, an education lawyer can help.