The other day I was walking my dog and ran into a neighbor along the way. We maintained safe distance and after the initial how are yous? the conversation quickly turned to the hot topic at hand: the Covid vaccine.
“I got my first dose this week! Have you gotten yours?” I immediately froze up. It’s not even readily available to the entire population yet. Not to mention, isn’t that private information? Though HIPAA only relates to healthcare providers and their duty to protect sensitive patient health information, as long as I can remember it has been common social practice to not discuss sensitive healthcare information.
And this is not the first time this question has come up. From acquaintances asking casually to everyone who gets the shot posting their covid vaccination record card like it’s public information, sharing private medical data has become commonplace.
It’s obvious why this info has become so charged and why almost all conversations many of us have these days shift to vaccine talk. After a year of a lifestyle none of us could ever have imagined living, a death toll that climbed steadily for over a year, and the potential of personally contracting a deadly illness, stress levels have been through the roof for most of the population. There is finally a solution, and I agree – that calls for celebration! But not at the expense of privacy or at the risk of anyone being coerced into sharing private medical information.
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that while we wouldn’t casually ask even the closest to us their weight or salary, it’s suddenly okay to request personal medical information. For those of you who wish to offer up those details freely, that’s your choice, but it’s entirely different to expect someone else to do the same.
To be completely frank I’ve not yet decided if I’ll receive the vaccine right away. I have underlying medical conditions that make the decision weightier. While the vaccine has been proven to be safe for the majority of the population, there is still limited safety data regarding adverse effects for some underlying medical conditions.
Either way, that decision is between me and my doctor.
When there is risk there needs to be choice, and no one deserves to be vilified because they are making what they feel is the best choice for them and their family.
This is true for any personal decisions made in the best interest of your family. As long as they are sheltered, safe, and well taken care of, personal family decisions are your business, which, in my mind, certainly includes the medical decisions you make for yourself and your family.