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Is it okay to ask if someone is vaccinated?

The simple answer, yes.

NEW ORLEANS — People are trying to balance day-to-day life and being healthy. And with vaccines proving to be the safest form of protection against COVID-19, some may want to know a person's vaccine status.

"Are you vaccinated?" A seemingly simple question, that can be tough to ask.

"The context of that interaction, who the person is and where you are when you're asking that question is really important," said Dr. Susan Hassig, DrPH, MPH.

People are taking extra precautions these days and in certain situations, some may want to know one's vaccination status. So, is it appropriate to ask? LSU Health Medical School's Associate Dean, Richard DiCarlo, says the simple answer is yes.

"And I think it's reasonable because you're asking because you're concerned about your safety and health," he said.

Whether you're seeing a doctor, hairdresser or having someone come to your home, it's perfectly legal to ask if they've gotten a shot or even to ask for proof.

"You have every right to ask that question," DiCarlo said. "And if a person shows you their proof of vaccination, that's not a HIPAA violation. They control that."

The question can get awkward though.

"If you really felt you wanted to ask the question you could lead with, 'I'm vaccinated how about you?'" Dr. Hassig said.

It's why Dr. Hassig, an Associate Professor of epidemiology says it's all how you approach it.

"If you're looking for someone to come and do repair work inside your home, then I would ask on the phone while you're setting up the appointment whether the workers are vaccinated," she said. "If you're in a restaurant making a reservation, call ahead to see if the staff is vaccinated if that's your concern."

And keep in mind, just because you ask, doesn't mean you'll get an answer.

"Even if you are vaccinated, you're not obligated to tell someone," Hassig said.

Asking for a person's vaccination status can be tricky, but when done carefully and with thought, some say it can be beneficial for you and those around you.

"It's really about the public health and our responsibility toward one another," DiCarlo said.

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