Do Individuals have to Disclose Vaccination Status?

Tag Archives: COVID

Do Individuals have to Disclose Vaccination Status?

disclose vaccination status or not - the law

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a controversy about “vaccine passports”, medical privacy laws and individual rights. As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eases restrictions on individuals vaccinated against Coronavirus, many companies and individuals are asking for individuals to disclose vaccination status. HIPAA is often cited as a justification to avoid disclosing that vaccination status; however, there are common misconceptions on what HIPAA actually covers as protections for medical information. As part of helping community members make informed decisions on getting vaccinated, it is important that medical providers offer clarity on this subject. Patients should know the negative consequences of not getting vaccinated in addition to the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. These conversations are an important part of increasing vaccination in our communities.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, also known as HIPAA, provides safeguards to protect an individual’s identifiable health information from being disclosed without their knowledge or consent. This legislation only applies to certain health-related businesses, however. Those businesses include insurance companies, healthcare clearinghouses, healthcare providers, and business connections. Your doctor, for example, cannot disclose your medical information without your express consent. There are other federal and state privacy regulations that may force employers and schools to secure personal information as well. Otherwise, HIPAA and no other federal law prohibits private enterprises that serve the public from requiring personnel and customers to get vaccinated or from anyone else to ask about vaccination status.

Some people are hesitant to disclose their vaccination status, and everyone has the right to not disclose. There most certainly would be consequences of not disclosing, however. Families and friend groups can ask for individuals to disclose their vaccination status before visiting. An employer can ask and even require an individual to get the vaccine as a condition of employment. HIPAA does not prevent a business from denying a person entry if they refuse to disclose vaccination status also. While businesses cannot deny service because of color or gender, there is no regulation that says companies cannot discriminate based on an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status during the pandemic.  

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) oversees federal anti-discrimination rules in the workplace. They released an advisory concerning employers asking about vaccination status. They stated that “there is no indication that an employer asking this question would be violating any federal law. If an employer’s efforts to find out why a worker didn’t get vaccinated elicits information regarding a disability, it might be a violation.”

It is important that patients understand how vaccination status affects their ability to return to life with eased restrictions. Not getting vaccinated and being willing to disclose that information can affect their ability to enjoy services, spend time with loved ones or be employed. Be sure that your patients’ understand these limitations on the law’s protections about being asked to disclose vaccination status so they can make informed decisions on being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Patagonia Health: Adapt & Innovate, At Speed

Adapting to COVID 19 EHR

“As a company, and as a country, we are vaccinating millions of people quickly. It is fascinating to see how people nationwide are contributing to fight COVID-19 to get us back to normal. There is no playbook thus, as a nation, it is all hands on deck,” Ashok Mathur, Founder & CEO, Patagonia Health.

COVID-19 has taken a toll on countless industries, and health care providers have not been spared from the impact. Communities and medical centers nationwide have had to adapt and innovate efficiently to remain competitive. This past year has shown us the importance of being agile, not only in life, but also in work. In order to properly treat America, manufacturers of the COVID-19 virus are learning to use their resources best by innovating the vaccine process; manufacturing at larger scales, delivering shipments more efficiently, and working through clinics to reach communities. 

Vaccine Innovation, posthaste: Due to the novel nature of the virus, the necessity to produce a quality vaccine quickly could not be deterred. To get our communities back to normal, we needed a vaccine, fast. Many pharmaceutical companies stepped up their manufacturing; they received funding and government relief to produce the vaccine at record times using the same safeguards and checking processes required of other vaccines. Although skepticism is understandable, we can rest in the fact that all proper safety measures are being taken in the development of the vaccines. 

Manufacturing, at scale: Getting the vaccines approved was only half the battle; now the challenges moved to the manufacturing process. Companies are overcoming numerous bottlenecks to manufacture at massive volumes. There is no playbook for such massive production at the scale necessary. Currently, international drug manufacturing companies are teaming up with US manufacturers to ease the production of the vaccine. In addition to the struggle of producing billions of doses, corporations are endeavoring to find new staff for assembly lines. Due to the increased demand for assembly lines to produce larger masses, manufacturers are needing greater amounts of assembly workers educated on the assembly of medical resources. Another major obstacle for vaccine distribution is the weather. With production at an all time high in the winter months; ice, snow, and polar storms are major problems when moving supplies through the north and the Midwest. With mass amounts of doses, comes quite a few large obstacles; however, with monetary allocations from the CDC, healthcare companies are actively finding solutions.

Vaccines Delivery, in droves: As vaccines are being manufactured at record levels, challenges with delivery and predictability emerge. When distribution started in late December 2020, FedEx was one of the first companies to aid in shipping. Being the world’s largest express transportation service, it is only natural for FedEx to step into this role. FedEx is delivering shipments of vaccines as well as committing $4 million in the effort to reach under-served communities in these nations. In addition to FedEx, the US National Guard is stepping up their game in the coronavirus relief effort. The National Guard is aiding the delivery of vaccines using their resources to transport shipments to healthcare workers and state personnel. Due to the contribution of transportation services, the delivery is being expedited and can be efficiently dispersed throughout the nation.

Vaccination by clinics, en masse: Our county health departments and other healthcare agencies are dealing with a myriad of challenges to scale up vaccinations. Staff is being reallocated and seasonal employees are being hired to meet the demand for contact tracing and vaccination at clinics. There is no playbook, and it is all hands on deck. With the need for medical staff at an all time high in 2020, facilities are moving towards telehealth services including use of electronic health records and coronavirus screening software. Automated medical help eliminates the need for essential health care workers and allows patients to organize their medical data and learn to diagnose their symptoms and contact using screening software. With software acting as the primary initial contact for those needing care, health care workers can further analyze requests and determine who is the most jeopardized and who needs immediate care. Medical professionals are also utilizing technology to communicate with patients who have the resources to connect for virtual appointments. This allows time and effort to be allocated properly to those who do not have the capability to connect and communicate with doctors online. Clinics are using software to its full capacity to schedule and treat patients with the vaccine through drive-in testing and administration.

Patagonia Health Responsiveness, at speed: To fight the pandemic, Patagonia Health’s R&D team innovated and collaborated with its customers to develop many resources to aid in the response to COVID-19, including an all new Mass Vaccination App, in a record time. Against the clock, we methodically designed, tested every scenario and rolled out this new feature in phases. While we too experienced the COVID-19 challenges, our rapid deployment enables us to meet the needs of our customers and their ever-changing workflows/needs. There is no playbook. “We have very smart people and it is great to see our staff jumping in, adapting and innovating”said Ashok Mathur, CEO, Patagonia Health. It’s all hands on deck. Adapting and Innovating continue.  “We can not rest until we do our part to fight this public health pandemic. Public Health agencies (and their communities) need us and we have been ready.  I am glad that we have an opportunity to serve” stated Mathur. 

CDC Beefs up on COVID-19 Reimbursement

cdc covid reimbursement ehr

The CDC and NCHS are making great strides to fund the relief effort of COVID-19. With vaccine distribution at an all time high, clinics across America are searching for ways to provide care to communities through doses, screenings, and hospital care.

With the ongoing pandemic, clinicians across the United States are in need of assistance to continue to provide care to communities. With resources stretched thin, medical practitioners require reimbursement if they are to continue aiding the public. Thankfully, in early February 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) teamed together to announce their plans for relief funding for health care clinics across the United States. Starting with a new release of ICD codes and requirements for reimbursement, the CDC is making rapid steps towards aiding the relief effort in Spring 2021.

Throughout 2020, the CDC has released ICD codes for monitoring the novel coronavirus as it spreads throughout the United States. These codes detail how hospitals, private practitioners, and the public can safely protect against the virus and handle the development of the pandemic. January 1, 2021 saw a new release of these ICD regulations. The CDC and the NCHS have implemented new codes for the classification COVID-19, screening techniques, indirect and direct contact, history with the virus, and effects of the virus on pneumonia, connective tissues, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. The new codes and classification of the virus help healthcare centers to properly treat and diagnose COVID-19 cases as they come.

With updates on the codes to be published in the near future, many healthcare providers and hospitals are anticipating how this development will affect them. A crucial resource for practitioners has been the CDC guidelines. These guidelines have proved useful in delineating treatment, screening, and disbursement in 2020 and 2019. Treating a great volume of COVID-19 patients has been a great burden for healthcare providers across the nation. In addition to treatment, clinics now face the monumental task of vaccine distribution in the following months. 

The CDC and NCHS are making great strides to fund the relief effort of the virus, as the vaccine is being progressively administered across the country.  Having an electronic health record solution that encompasses all the current codes, COVID-19 screening, and mass vaccination functionality can amplify the success of the response to the virus for treatment and vaccinations.