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COVID-19 & Texas Law

This guide is updated to reflect information pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information in this guide is subject to change at any time.

Medical Privacy

See the Insurance page of this guide for information on medical insurance and balance billing.

"Vaccine Passports"

COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out across the state. Many people have wondered if they will soon be required to show proof that they have gotten a vaccine. In the press, this proof is sometimes referred to as a "vaccine passport" or "vaccine pass." Some states, like New York, have set up voluntary digital passes. In the future, international travelers might need to show proof that they've had a COVID-19 vaccination.

So far, neither Texas nor the federal government has set up a "vaccine passport" or "vaccine pass." Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that prohibits Texas government entities and publicly funded organizations from requiring people to prove that they've had a COVID-19 vaccination.

Texas Government & Publicly Funded Organizations

On April 5th, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that prohibits:

  • Governmental entities from forcing "any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization."
  • State agencies and political subdivisions from adopting a law, rule, or policy that requires people to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to receive service or enter a place.
  • Public and private organizations that receive "public funds through any means" from requiring consumers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to receive service or enter a place.

Nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities may still "require documentation of a resident's vaccination status for any COVID-19 vaccine."

Private Businesses & Organizations

Governor Greg Abbott's executive order GA-35 only applies to governments and private organizations that receive public funds. Most businesses and other organizations do not fall into that category.

KHOU, a news organization in Houston, produced this video. It answers questions about whether "vaccine passports" violate people's medical privacy rights under HIPAA, a federal law. In their analysis, they determine that "a 'vaccine passport' does not violate HIPAA."

Contract Tracing

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is conducting ongoing "contact tracing" efforts in Texas. Participation is voluntary and requires Texans to sign up online and provide consent in order to participate.

According to their website, after a person goes to the DSHS website and signs up,

"A contact tracer reaches out to the [person who contracted COVID-19] and [people who were possibly exposed to COVID-19] to assist in arranging the help that they need. The contact tracer may provide help to [these individuals] by:

  • Answering questions about the disease
  • Monitoring symptoms
  • Sharing effective prevention steps
  • Recommending and determining a date range for quarantine
  • Providing resources for testing, medical care, mental health support, food, shelter, and so on"

Government Disease Reporting

Both federal and state laws allow certain patient information to be shared with other government entities for the purpose of controlling communicable diseases in the population. See the resources below for details.

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