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Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required at some workplaces and public facilities. Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Although COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory, there are situations when you might be required to show proof you’ve been vaccinated.
  • Some workplaces, such as healthcare facilities and businesses that deal with the public, are beginning to require vaccination proof.
  • Some medical facilities and senior care centers are allowing visitors with vaccination proof.
  • Places such as stadiums and arenas can increase capacity if their fans are required to show proof of vaccination.

It’s unlikely that everyone in the United States will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

But while vaccinations will continue to be a personal choice, there may be circumstances when people need to provide proof of vaccination.

Neither state officials nor the federal government currently require vaccination against any disease, and the Biden administration is on record opposing mandatory vaccination of private citizens or even requirements that people be compelled to carry a vaccination “passport” or similar credentials.

Private companies, however, can and are requiring proof of vaccination — such as presenting an original copy of their CDC vaccination record — to take part in certain activities.

They aren’t necessarily the only ones either.

Here’s a look at some situations when people might be needed to provide proof they’ve been vaccinated.

Teachers, law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, and transportation workers are among the professionals most likely to face vaccination mandates in the workplace, according to Sharona Hoffman, JD, co-director of The Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

“We seem to be moving toward the honor system now,” Hoffman told Healthline. “I’m seeing a lot of employers offering incentives [such as gift cards or other rewards for getting vaccinated] rather than imposing requirements.”

Some employers with workers who come in close contact with the public may want to impose mandatory vaccination requirements — which generally are legal — to limit liability exposure.

“Even in healthcare I don’t see strict mandates,” Hoffman said.

However, she notes, that could change if a surge in COVID-19 cases results from relaxed masking and physical distancing requirements.

Lawmakers in a number of states have introduced legislation that would bar employers from requiring employees to get vaccinated or punishing those who refuse.

Every U.S. state requires certain vaccinations to attend K–12 schools, typically against diseases such as polio, diphtheria, measles, mumps, tetanus, and whooping cough.

Of these states, 44 allow religious exemptions to childhood vaccination and 15 allow exemptions for personal, moral, or other beliefs.

No state currently requires COVID-19 vaccination for children to attend school. But with the vaccine recently approved for use among children ages 12 and older, that could change.

A significant number of colleges and universities are requiring students who want to attend in-person classes in the fall to be vaccinated. That includes everything from Ivy League schools such as Brown and Harvard to smaller schools like Wofford College in South Carolina and every school in the State University of New York system.

Travel to certain parts of the world has long required vaccination against diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. Now, COVID-19 vaccination has become the “passport” to be able to visit some countries.

Some travel destinations, such as Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Israel, and Iceland, have made proof of vaccination a requirement for international travelers.

Others, such as Greece, Grenada, Nepal, and Romania, have eased or waived COVID-19 testing requirements and quarantine mandates for vaccinated visitors.

Even before the pandemic, the cruise industry struggled with the public perception that their floating vessels were plagued with infectious diseases. It certainly didn’t help when some of the earliest outbreaks of COVID-19 took place aboard cruise ships.

Cruising has been one of the slower sectors of the travel industry to come back post-pandemic, and cruise lines such as Azamara, Celebrity, Crystal, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar have made vaccination mandatory for passengers.

One of the most difficult aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the near-total ban on hospital visitation, resulting in untold thousands of people dying separated from their families and loved ones.

Providence, a healthcare provider in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, is launching a pilot program to allow vaccinated people to visit cancer patients.

“With safety as a primary concern, some patients who need medical care now have the option to tread this difficult treatment journey with a care companion, which is of immense relief to not only the patient but for family members and supporting medical staff too,” Dr. Eve Cunningham, chief medical officer for strategic partnerships at Providence, told Healthline.

“I think that moving forward, vaccine certificates should be mandated at any senior care center or elderly communities to make sure they are safe,” Stephan Baldwin, founder of Assisted Living Center, a company providing information and marketing services to more than 19,000 senior communities across the United States, told Healthline.

“Vaccine certificates should be required not only for COVID but any other virus that represents a threat to seniors,” he said. “These certificates could function just like vaccine passports that could grant entrance to zones where most people over a certain age live.”

A May 2021 survey found that 57 percent of respondents in the United States believe that proof of vaccination should be required to attend sporting events.

While many event venues are still operating at reduced capacity, some are allowing larger crowds.

Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, for example, is still requiring masks to be worn at games but has set aside a special section for vaccinated fans.

Fans attending the recent NFL draft in Cleveland were required to provide proof of vaccination.

Erie County officials in New York will require fans of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres to be vaccinated if they want to attend games in person.

Using vaccination as an incentive, California is allowing greater attendance for concerts and indoor sporting events if venues require guests to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.