There’s currently a lot of discussion about what businesses and other organizations will do regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. Will companies require proof of vaccination for certain locations or activities? Could businesses be liable if they do not? How easy are vaccine cards to fake, anyway?
For security firms, the questions are slightly different: Can companies make rules about entry that require vaccine cards? Will security guards be asked to check for proof of vaccination? Is this legal? Let’s look at what we know so far.
Businesses Can Ask for Proof of Vaccination
Unless a specific state passes new legislation or creates executive orders addressing this, businesses are legally allowed to ask customers for proof of vaccination before allowing them on the premises, serving them, etc. This usually means asking for the cardboard vaccination card that lists the date of vaccinations and other information filled out by medical authorities.
This is still a somewhat murky area since it’s such a new frontier. A customer, for example, could also sue a business for denying them service because they lack a vaccine card, but until these theoretical lawsuits are decided, a business generally has the right to create rules for its own property.
As we saw with mask requirements, it often falls to security guards at access points to check that customers are obeying the rules. That means your security guards should be familiar with vaccine cards and ready to politely ask to see them.
Certain Businesses Are More Likely to Require Checks Than Others
Security guards can expect to see these vaccine requirements arrive sooner in some industries than others. Hospitals, of course, will be incorporating vaccine checks into their policies, so this is one of the first areas where security guards may be asked to verify vaccination. Venues are also seeing a lot of requests to require vaccination for weddings, concerts, and other events, so there is growing demand for security guards there as well.
There’s also an open question for colleges and universities this coming fall: Many larger universities are mandating that students must be vaccinated to show up on campus. Procedures are still being worked out for how on-campus vaccinations will be verified, but it’s possible that campus police and security guards will play a role in this.
There’s Currently No Way to Identify Fake Vaccine Cards
It’s important to make this very clear to clients when discussing vaccination checks – fake vaccine cards exist, and there’s no real way to tell. Current vaccine cards weren’t really designed to act as official indicators in any way. They are relatively flimsy, difficult to store in a wallet or purse without damage, and have no special identifying marks or signs that let people know they are legitimate. People with empty forms can simply fill them out with fake information, and while this is specifically illegal on a federal level, people are already doing it. Others may have real vaccination cards but rely on photographs of the delicate card instead of the real version, which should also be accepted even though there’s no real way to verify the image.
However, until more robust vaccine cards with telltale markers are created, there is no way that a security guard can tell if a card is fake or not, and they cannot be asked to verify a card’s authenticity. To make matters worse, not every vaccine location or pharmacist is filling out cards in the same way, or even remembering to fill them out properly at all, so there’s a lot of hit or miss for the time being.
Some States are Mandating Checks for Certain Events
While it is (so far) largely left up to businesses to decide for themselves, rules about vaccine checks are also being put into place in some states. One current example is New York, which is requiring proof of vaccination OR a recent negative COVID-19 test for catered events and in general events with more than 100 people. It’s important to keep track of state requirements like this, and if negative coronavirus tests are an acceptable alternative to vaccine cards, then guards should also be prepared to ask for – and recognize – documentation for those tests.
Other, More Digital Vaccine Passes Are on the Way
Organizations are already working to make proof of vaccination easier and more official in some sectors. IBM, for example, is working with airports and the TSA to create digital vaccine passport options with biometric screening and a database that keeps track of fully vaccinated people. States like New York are also working on types of digital vaccination passes. So far, this is not mainstream, but security companies should also be aware that new methods of checking for vaccinations are on the way, and guards may need to upgrade their procedures if new methods are adopted.
The growth of vaccine checkpoints could improve security guard hiring throughout a number of industries, so it’s important to keep an eye on this field for new opportunities. Keep in mind this is an ongoing development and that vaccine check requirements are likely to evolve based on factors like state laws, requirements for COVID booster shots in the coming months, and much more. Stay on top of the latest developments and you’ll be able to address all client concerns effectively.