Debunking COVID-19 vaccination card misinformation: 5 things to know 

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

As the country continues its push to get COVID-19 shots into the arms of the unvaccinated, misinformation about the vaccines, HIPAA and verification cards has flourished. 

Here are five common questions related to COVID-19 vaccines and verification cards, plus their answers, according to CBS affiliate WUSA

1. Can private businesses ask customers for proof of COVID-19 vaccination? Yes; according to HHS, HIPAA only applies to covered entities including health plans, most healthcare providers and healthcare clearinghouses. Organizations that do not have to follow HIPAA include most schools, most law enforcement agencies and employers. 

2. Do federal employment laws prevent employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines? No; there are no federal laws in place stopping an employer from requiring employees to be vaccinated as long as the employer makes reasonable accommodations to comply with the American Disabilities Act. On Sept. 9, President Joe Biden unveiled a mandate that federal workers and contractors be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

3. Are there any other options besides the paper COVID-19 vaccination verification card? Yes; some states including New York, have launched digital COVID-19 vaccine record options through their health department websites. COVID-19 vaccine providers such as CVS, Walmart and Sam's Club have also rolled out digital options for users to store their vaccine records online. 

4. Are vaccine cards on their own protected under HIPAA? No; HIPAA only applies when medical information is in the hands "of a covered entity," which HHS defines as healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses. HIPAA also applies to business associates of these covered entities. 

5. Are fake vaccine cards illegal? Yes; two New Jersey women were recently charged with offering a false instrument for filing and conspiracy for allegedly selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to hospital employees and other healthcare workers, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office. 


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