As we approach the one-year mark of social distancing and shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine rollouts are taking place across the country. We asked two community association law attorneys to answer frequently asked questions from board members and homeowners association residents:
Can we require proof of vaccination from residents?
Generally, community associations may not require residents to provide medical information. An association cannot compel a resident to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine any more than it can require proof of an annual flu vaccine, says David W. Kaman, partner at Ohio law firm Kaman & Cusimano and president of the 2021 Board of Governors of CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL).
“An association with employees, however, may be able to require that the employees show proof of obtaining the vaccine if it becomes a requirement of employment,” he says. Associations should review this matter with their legal counsel prior to making it a requirement.
An association also may decide to work with a health care provider to distribute the vaccines when they become available to the broader population. “The association must make it clear that the health care provider, not the association, is providing, distributing, and ultimately responsible for the vaccine and any medical information,” Kaman notes.
Nancy T. Polomis, an attorney with Hellmuth & Johnson in Minneapolis, has one association that plans to bring a medical professional to administer the vaccine as a convenience to their residents, but also so that they don’t have to go out of the building if that’s going to be a problem for them. “That hasn’t kicked in yet, because the vaccine applications are not at the point where they’re readily available,” she says.
“A lot of times it’s more a matter of being proactive and making it easy for residents to get their vaccine, which in turn helps the entire community,” she explains. Polomis encourages associations to update residents via email or a newsletter as the vaccine becomes widely available, especially if the community or the locality will be administering vaccines. “But of course, no one will force anyone to be vaccinated,” she adds.
“Aside from whatever opposition someone might have to a vaccine, there are also other medical reasons why people would not get them,” says Polomis. “Trying to impose a requirement that people provide proof of vaccination is ill advised, and probably would lead to very bad consequences for the association.”
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Laura Otto is the Senior Editor of Digital Content at CAI. A seasoned journalist, Laura previously worked for a creative, advocacy agency in Washington, D.C., where she wrote and edited content for a variety of public health clients. Prior to that, Laura served as a senior writer and editor for the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Laura is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia.