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Private businesses requiring vaccine passports does not violate HIPAA laws

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 5:21 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - As more Americans around the country are becoming vaccinated against COVID-19, the idea of presenting a vaccine passport to enter crowded spaces or travel abroad is a topic of debate.

But would these passports be a useful public health tool or an invasion of medical privacy?

In 1905, the supreme court ruled that everyone in Cambridge, Massachusetts had to receive a smallpox vaccination.

Today, this case is used as an example of the Constitution not being violated by requiring vaccinations.

Attorney Nathan Oviatt says broadly speaking, the federal government can require vaccinations, however, there are a lot of stipulations.

“You’re going to have to start with are we dealing with a fundamental right? And if we’re dealing with the fundamental right to the health of one’s body or the right to travel, the supreme court will then look at is there a compelling state interest in the restriction that’s the issue. In this case, the vaccine passports,” said Oviatt. “I believe the supreme court will likely find that there is a compelling state interest given the pandemic. So then, what it really comes down to is are the vaccine passports the least restrictive alternatives? And that’s really a question that’s up in the air.”

Oviatt says whatever side of the debate you’re on…it’ll be legal for a privately owned business to enforce proof of vaccination and it says does not violate HIPAA laws. In other words, you do not have to disclose whether you were vaccinated, but if you wish to enter a private space that requires proof of a Covid-19 vaccination…they can refuse service if you do not comply.

“It would be similar to no shirt no shoes no service. With the exception of things like medical exemptions and religious exemptions, which would be a different class of cases, which would be subject to a different level of scrutiny,” Oviatt said.

Oviatt believes it is less likely individual states will mandate passports for public spaces.

South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem is personally against the idea of vaccine passports and claims they ARE a fundamental threat to our freedoms.

She says she’s trying to do what she can to prevent this government mandate.

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