“How did you qualify?” someone boldly asked in the comments, unleashing what would turn into the first of a series of murky touch points where sharing my vaccine status opened me up to scrutiny and possible judgment.
Whose business was it if I had a comorbidity or special circumstances that qualified me to obtain the vaccine? What responsibility did I have to let others know I didn’t cut the line without sharing personal details?
The more people I talked to, the more I realized that sharing my vaccine status is a thornier issue than I had imagined. What else had I missed in my rush to share my status? Maybe I shouldn’t have shared so quickly.
Social pressures are real
Sharing your vaccine status with friends and family and on social media can mean an outpouring of support — and it also can mean unwanted scrutiny, questions or even backlash. That’s what I experienced.
“We debated over whether to post vaccine selfies, because our comorbidities allowed us to get it sooner than some friends who are also anxious to get it. Since everybody couldn’t get it at once, I felt simultaneous relief and guilt, because I knew so many others were waiting,” said Courtney Finnerty, a stay-at-home parent in Rochester, New York.
Finnerty did end up sharing her vaccine status in order to help normalize the process for others.
Work and the decision to disclose
While the Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees from having their employers share their vaccine status with others, “your employer may be entitled to information about your vaccine status,” said Margaret Riley, a professor at the University of Virginia who teaches food and drug law, health law, bioethics and public health law. That’s true particularly if being unvaccinated poses a particular threat to others — examples include restaurant workers, teachers instructing students in person, and health care workers at medical facilities.
Some worry their employers may force them back to the office before they feel safe returning if they share their vaccine status.
“I’ll admit to being pretty anxious that it means my job will make me come back to the office sooner,” said one friend who works in publishing in New York City and who was afraid to be named due to potential backlash from the employer, who has not been particularly supportive of employees during the pandemic.
Others worry that sharing their vaccine status can get politicized and cost them business.
“It’s tricky. Speaking from a monetary and business owner perspective, being vaccinated means I don’t need to pass on the cost of my continual…