Sharing Your Vaccine Status – Risks and Benefits
For the safety of yourself and others, schools, employers, or event organizers may ask you for proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. It is your right to decide if you share your personal information with others.
Your personal health information can be misused to access services, apply for credit cards using your name, or other fraudulent purposes.
Throughout the pandemic, each of us have had to make decisions about our health safety and the risks and benefits of our actions. You can apply a similar risk and benefit approach to decide if, when and how you share your vaccine status.
Consider the purpose of providing your vaccine status.
Are you giving this information to a physician or nurse for your health care?
Before attending a concert or football game?
Is it a pre-requisite before you can attend school or a sports program?
Protect your gold – your personally identifiable information.
If you decide to share your vaccine status:
- provide the least amount of information needed.
- understand how your information will be used.
Sometimes, answering the question ‘Is your vaccine up-to-date?’ is good enough. You don't always need to share your date of birth, family physician, and health care number, too.
You may be asked to show your proof of vaccine status, but don’t allow the casual requester to make a copy of the vaccination report. (There are some exceptions. Sometimes, you may need to share the information with your healthcare provider or a government official).
Instead, the requester can make a simple notation on their records that you were asked about your vaccine status, and you showed an appropriate proof of vaccination. (See the blog post How To Correctly Identify Patients And Use Photo ID for tips on how to implement this practice in your business).
If You Are Collecting Vaccine Status
If you are a business owner who is collecting personal information like a vaccine status, remember that you must follow the appropriate privacy legislation. In Alberta, private businesses must follow Personal Information Privacy Act (PIPA) legislation.
See the advice document from the Alberta Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) regarding the reasonable purpose to collect personal information and your responsibilities to keep the information secure.
How Do You Get Your Vaccine Report?
Most often, you will receive a paper confirmation from the healthcare provider at the time that you receive your first and second vaccine dose. In Alberta, you can also download your vaccine record from MyHealth Record, the Personal Health Record for Albertans to access some of their health information, such as lab results, medications, and immunizations drawn from Alberta Netcare.
I shared a short video here to show you how you can register for your own personal account. Some other provinces have a similar provincial electronic health record that individuals can access their own health information.
Keep It Safe
You will probably need to refer to your vaccine status often over the next few years. Keep this information safe and easy to retrieve.
Take reasonable steps to protect your information so that other people can't easily view or take your information without your permission. Will you keep your information in:
- paper format?
- your wallet or purse?
- as a photo on your phone?
- If so, also consider how you will share the photo. If you give your phone to someone to hold and view the photo of your vaccine status or passport, they may also use the access to your phone for other purposes.
Evaluate the Risks and Benefits
Remember to ask yourself why you need to share the information and evaluate the risks and the benefits. It's your information, and you get to decide if, when, and how to share your vaccine status. Take the time that you need to ask the right questions and make an informed choice.
After you share your information, it’s too late to take it back.
Instead, be prepared to respond to a request for your vaccine status with these privacy tips to protect your personal health information.