A: You absolutely can ask your clinician (or any other professional you are interacting with) if they got the COVID-19 vaccine.
But they don’t have to answer you. You do not have the right to know their vaccine status. But if you would be uncomfortable with a “no” or a no-answer, you should feel empowered to discuss that discomfort with your healthcare team.
As more and more people get back to in-person interactions, this question is coming up a lot! Folks are trying to figure out how to navigate the world with some people who are vaccinated and others who are not. This is true even in healthcare settings.
The American Medical Association found that about 96% of practicing doctors in the US are vaccinated (yay!). Unfortunately, the percentage takes a dip when looking at all healthcare workers. Healthcare workers in hospitals are more likely to be vaccinated than people who work in home health care or skilled nursing facilities. As of March 2021, only about half of all healthcare workers were vaccinated in the US.
It is important to feel safe when you are receiving your healthcare. It is totally OK to ask your team if they got the vaccine. One strategy is to ask, “If you feel comfortable, can you please tell me if you are fully vaccinated?” They are not obligated to share their vaccination information with you and may choose not to answer for a variety of reasons.
In the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not prevent you from asking someone if they got the COVID-19 vaccine (see our post about HIPAA here).
Talk with your healthcare team about your comfort level receiving care from someone who is unvaccinated (or unwilling to disclose). They may be able to accommodate you to help you feel more comfortable. They might find someone to provide care who is willing to share their vaccine status, offer a video or phone visit, or discuss strategies they are using to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. If you continue to feel uncomfortable, you may choose to get your healthcare from someone or somewhere else. Everyone deserves to feel safe with the healthcare they receive.
Lots of love,
Those Nerdy Girls