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VERIFY: No, HIPAA does not prevent Dak Prescott from disclosing his vaccination status

During a team news conference Friday, quarterback Dak Prescott cited a health privacy law as the reason why he couldn't answer whether he received a COVID-19 vaccine
Credit: WFAA

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott refused to answer a reporter's question asking whether he had received a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

During a team news conference, Prescott answered, "I don't necessarily think that's important...I think that's HIPAA."

THE QUESTION

Does the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibit you from asking someone about their COVID-19 vaccination status?

THE SOURCE

Text from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

THE ANSWER

No, HIPAA does not prevent a non-health care business or professional from asking someone about their COVID-19 vaccination status. The law also does not prohibit someone from disclosing their own COVID-19 vaccination status. 

WHAT WE FOUND

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. 

The law governs the privacy of your health records and how health records are stored.

According to the text of the law, HIPAA only applies to:

  • A health plan
  • A health care clearinghouse
  • A health care provider who transmits any health information in electronic form

The text of the law also includes provisions for business associates defined in specific instances including an associate "acting on behalf of such covered entity or of an organized health care arrangement."

The law does not provide any instance in which an individual or entity, not connected to or working on behalf of a health care individual or business, is covered by privacy rules. 

Ultimately, the law protects your medical records from being disclosed by health care professionals. It's legal for individuals to ask about another individual's vaccination status.

However, it is up to Dak Prescott's personal discretion whether he wants to disclose that information.