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What businesses can and can't ask for you to prove you've had the COVID vaccine

KHOU 11 legal analyst Carmen Roe breaks down what businesses can and can't ask to see your vaccination card.

HOUSTON — The CDC says 44% of Americans 12 and older are fully vaccinated. Federal health officials said those people can safely take off their masks in almost all indoor and outdoor settings.

RELATED: CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

But can businesses ask for proof of vaccination from employees or customers who want to go maskless? How about schools?

KHOU 11 legal analyst Carmen Roe explained what entities can and cannot ask to see your vaccination card.

“This is a very unclear area in the law. What is clear is that state and federal agencies under Gov. Abbott’s order cannot ask someone to show their vaccination card,” she said.

Roe said that means schools and universities can’t ask for proof. International travel is a different story. Some cruise lines have already announced being vaccinated is a requirement to sail.

“I think it’s a privilege to go into other countries. It’s not a right. Individuals who want to avail themselves of that opportunity can do so by presenting the card and swearing on a document that they’re fully vaccinated. Keep in mind, if you don’t have anything to show you’re fully vaccinated, they just ask you to get a negative COVID test going in and then one coming back,” Roe said.

Roe does not think other businesses will follow suit because whether someone is vaccinated or not is private health information.

“People need to keep in mind that these cards are pieces of paper with handwritten notes on them, so they can be easily reproduced and there’s no way to verify they’re authentic,” Roe said.

She said the courts will ultimately decide if business owners can ask employees or customers to show their vaccine cards to remove their masks or provide service.

“I think it runs a very serious risk of interfering with federal privacy laws that are on the books, that are there that have never been tested in the way these vaccinations are testing them. Once we get a test case, I think things are not going to go well for any business who tries to force someone to produce that information before they enter,” she said.