Can businesses require COVID-19 vaccinations? The short answer: yes

Posted at 5:30 AM, May 10, 2021

(WXYZ) — Are you entitled to COVID-19 vaccination privacy and is it a legally protected right? As employers assemble plans to return to the office and places of business reopen, could vaccinations be required?

Some say it feels like Big Brother is watching you, and it's a hotly debated topic throughout the U.S. right now.

If you travel overseas, you know you will need a passport, and depending on which country you go to, specific shots too.

But, a vaccination card could get you further than a plane ticket even on domestic flights, and give you more access than a concert ticket. Importantly, it sounds like it’s legal

A Rockefeller Foundation survey of nearly 30,000 leaders from 24 industries around the work found 60% of employers plan to require proof of vaccination status for employees to return to work

Would HIPAA prevent that? Employment and civil rights Attorney Deborah Gordon says HIPAA doesn’t govern an employer, the Americans with Disabilities Act does.

"Are you capable of performing this job physically? That’s a perfectly legitimate question. They can’t just, in general, delve into your health," she said.

But your vaccine is not your health. Your vaccine is not a disability, it’s not covered by the ADA.

As entertainment venues discuss reopening - could they require ticket holders to show proof of vaccination before entering?

"Yes, they have a right to ask you whether you’ve been vaccinated and if they want to say, you can not come in, they can do that," Gordon said.

No place of business is allowed to discriminate based on your race, your gender, your religion, your national origin, and so on, but we’re not talking about those protected categories right now.

"There is no law that exists that says you are protected from being asked about whether you have had a vaccine," Gordon said.

There is one big exception

Currently, the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved under an emergency use authorization with the FDA. So, if you work for the federal government, they can't require you to get the vaccine until it becomes fully authorized.

Public schools have required a number of vaccinations for decades in order for a student to attend - but there are exceptions. You can seek an exemption based on a medical condition or a religious exemption

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.