STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Asking a person for proof of vaccination against the coronavirus (COVID-19) might feel like an invasion of privacy, but it is not considered a HIPAA violation and businesses are permitted to do so.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo adopted the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance on Wednesday, stating New Yorkers who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask with the exception of public transportation, hospitals, schools, prisons, planes and homeless shelters.
The updated guidance meant businesses would be able to decide for themselves if they want to enforce a mask mandate for all customers or allow customers to be without.
Allowing customers to enter without a mask means that they would work on the honor system, or they’d need proof of vaccination for those without a mask.
Since the vaccination effort began – and increasing since the guidance was update — people have been stating that asking for proof of vaccination is a violation of one’s HIPAA rights.
“We all know it’s a HIPAA violation ask somebody if they’ve been vaccinated… you’re not allowed to ask for proof of medical anything,” said one person on Facebook.
WHAT IS HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – enacted in 1996 and a part of the Social Security Act — prevents health care providers and professionals from sharing a person’s private health information without the patient’s consent.
For example, doctor’s offices often have patients sign a form asking for permission to share their medical records with other physicians or an emergency contact if necessary. If a patient doesn’t consent, the physician is unable to share information, even if it is requested by another healthcare provider treating that patient.
According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), HIPAA protects information that medical professionals write in your medical record, conversations with a healthcare professional, information about your healthcare plan, billing information, and other health-related information that would be shared with your physician.
BUSINESSES CAN ASK FOR VAX PROOF — IT’S NOT A HIPAA VIOLATION
Because HIPAA pertains to healthcare businesses and establishments — such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, insurance companies — grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses do not fall into the same category.
That means an establishment verifying or asking a person for proof of their vaccination status is not a privacy violation under HIPAA because a person is allowed to share their own information.
Most chains that have announced they will lift mask mandates for vaccinated people said they won’t be asking for proof of the COVID-19 shot, but hope people will be honest. Target, Costco, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart have all said they will be following the CDC’s guidance.
#fyiSI — HERE’S THE POINT
When #fyiSI launched in October 2018, the Advance received dozens of questions from readers about all things Staten Island.
Now, we’re continuing to provide answers and are asking you again to ask us anything, Staten Island — and we mean anything.
Through #fyiSI, I’m going to answer all of your burning questions – with the occasional help of my coworkers – about the borough with 479,458 residents that we all call home.
Some of the questions we’ve received so far include:
- How can we ask for a stop sign to be added?
- What happened to my favorite restaurant?
- Is that a mobile speed camera?
- Why is the Department of Transportation doing construction on my block?
Now I’ ready to tackle them all, and I’m looking for more questions, Whatever it is, I’ll answer it.
You might be wondering how #fyiSI differs from the average story you already read in the Staten Island Advance or on SILive.com.
We’re not stepping away from the traditional news article, but instead adding social media elements like Facebook live, Instagram stories, Twitter polls, and other multimedia to help us reach you.
We’ll also do a lot of reporting on site.
Questions should include your name, neighborhood of residence and contact information, and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
#fyiSI questions we’ve answered so far
- #fyiSI: The first question we got – why are people so rude? (commentary)
- #fyiSI: Answering some of the questions posed by our readers
- #fyiSI you asked: Can we get a traffic light on Decker Avenue in Port Richmond?
- #fyiSI: More speed cameras are coming to a school zone near you
- #fyiSI: What’s being done about the ‘disgusting turkeys?’
- #fyiSI: Answers to your questions about the NY Wheel, bike paths, and more
- #fyiSI: Is after-hours parking in municipal lots allowed?
- #fyiSI you asked: Is there an update on the contamination at Great Kills Park? We got an answer
- #fyiSI: Answers to your questions about car charging stations, mental health services and more
- #fyiSI you asked: Can you report neighbors who use traffic cones to save parking spaces?
- #fyiSI – Why is that street closed? Road work shut these streets across the Island
- #fyiSI: Answers to your questions about school bus parking, dog waste and more
- #fySI: Answers your questions about Hylan Blvd. construction, handwriting in schools and bike racks on buses
- #fyiSI: Answers to your questions about homeless shelters, the ‘grand staircase,’ two-way tolling and more
- #fyiSI: What are the worst parking lots, trouble spots on Staten Island?
- #fyiSI: What’s the worst parking lot offense? Take our poll
- Bump, scratch, squeeze: Staten Island’s worst parking lots — #fyiSI survey results
- #fyiSI you asked: What are dog leash laws on streets and in parks?
- #fyiSI: Answers to your questions about speed bumps, film permits and more
- City: Many parking lots were built before current zoning regulations, amendments were put in place
- #fyiSI: Answers to your questions about stopping for school buses, Front Street traffic signals, and tree pruning
- Rampant handicap parking abuse on the Island: See how many parking permits, tickets have been issued
- #fyiSI you asked: Why does it take so long to paint lane lines after repaving?
- #fyiSI: Answers to your questions about city trees, noise ordinances and median cleaning
- #fyiSI you asked: And we have the answers — from Bayley Seton site to status of Goethals pedestrian, bike path
- #fyiSI: Answers to your questions about street median eyesore, car crashes, need for new Jewish eatery
- #fyiSI: Tree branches are leaning on electrical wires — help! How do I get them removed?
- #fyiSI: Help, I think there are roaches in my tree
- #fyiSI you asked: What’s being done about gun violence?
- #fyiSI: I made a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, do I need to keep it now that walk-ups are permitted?
- #fyiSI you asked: Where does money from the speed cameras go?
- #fyiSI you asked: When will the DMV offer more in-person services?
- #fyiSI you asked: I need to recycle my TV, when are DSNY Special Waste Drop-Off sites reopening?
- #fyiSI you asked: Is this city going to add more bike racks to city buses?
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