Personal Vaccine Inquiries

As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, many are interested in knowing whether colleagues and students have been vaccinated. This curiosity is understandable. As the University looks forward to planning in-person activities, it seems logical to inquire about others’ vaccination status out of consideration for their safety and wellbeing. However, asking for a person’s vaccination status may elicit additional information that is not pertinent and could expose individuals and the University to liability.
People with certain health conditions are unable to be vaccinated. In addition, those with sincerely held religious beliefs may legally refuse vaccinations. As a result, asking whether someone has been vaccinated may yield information about the person’s disability or religious views. An individual who has this protected information may be liable if it is used in a discriminatory manner. For instance, a class policy prohibiting students from participating in a particular activity unless they have been vaccinated would be discriminatory if applied to a student whose disability prevents them from being vaccinated.
Vaccine information, including whether or not a person has received the vaccine, is private. The best way to avoid the consequences of misusing private information is not to have it.

Questions regarding vaccine inquires can be directed to Amy Clendennen, general counsel, at 660.785.4121.
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