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Employers do not violate HIPAA by asking employees for COVID-19 vaccine status

Companies are not in violation of HIPAA Privacy Rules by asking employees to reveal COVID-19 vaccination status, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights.

The OCR issued its guidance in regard to HIPAA, COVID-19 Vaccinations and the workplace Thursday afternoon.

“The guidance reminds the public that the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply to employers or employment records,” according to the HHS OCR. “This is because the HIPAA Privacy Rule only applies to HIPAA covered entities (health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers that conduct standard electronic transactions), and, in some cases, to their business associates.”

OCR Director Lisa Pino said they issued the guidance to help consumers, businesses and health care entities understand when HIPAA applies to disclosures about COVID-19 vaccine status.

Pino also said the guidance was issued “to ensure that they have the information they need to make informed decisions about protecting themselves and others from COVID-19.”

The Guidance on HIPAA, COVID-19 Vaccinations, and the Workplace may be found at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/guidance/hipaa-covid-19-vaccination-workplace/index.html.