Knocking on Doors to Promote Vaccines Does Not Violate Privacy Law | Ap
CLAIM: President Joe Biden’s initiative for a door-to-door campaign to encourage vaccination against COVID-19 is a violation of federal law that restricts the disclosure of medical information.
FACTS: Biden started a door-to-door campaign as a way to get more people vaccine information and assistance, without surveying Americans to see if they’ve been vaccinated.
But even if officials or volunteers were to ask people this question, it wouldn’t violate federal privacy laws, experts say. Nonetheless, social media users and political candidates have been spreading false claims that the campaign violates federal privacy law known as HIPAA.
“What if the government stayed out of our business!” Texas Republican Congressional candidate Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez wrote in a Facebook post. “What happened to PRIVATE health decisions? Looks like giving these door knockers our vaccination status would be a violation of HIPPA. “
Another Facebook user wrote: “Coming to my door to search for personal health information is a violation of HIPAA laws and my constitutional rights. “
In fact, HIPAA doesn’t prevent anyone from questioning another person about their health, according to Alan Meisel, a law professor and bioethics expert at the University of Pittsburgh. “What it does is ban certain health care entities from revealing certain health information about patients,” Meisel told the AP in an email.
If someone comes to your door encouraging you to get vaccinated against COVID-19, you have no obligation to tell them if you have been vaccinated, said Kayte Spector-Bagdady, lawyer and associate director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Science in Medicine at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.
“HIPAA does not apply to public health awareness volunteers, and it does not apply to information that you propose to say,” Spector-Baghdady said in an email to the AP. “If you are uncomfortable, don’t open the door – or do it and just get information without giving it back!”
– Ali Swenson