Gary Smith: Privacy lost asking for proof of vaccination |

Gary Smith: Privacy lost asking for proof of vaccination


I was asked by a stranger recently if I was vaccinated, and I instinctively answered. Right after our short conversation I thought that is none of their business.

I guess this is the new COVID-19 normal, strangers asking your private medical information. Starting June 15 businesses can choose to ask if you’re vaccinated and make you prove it, according to California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly ,if you want to go maskless.

Would you would show them your vaccination card to prove it? There are exemptions for people with a disability, medical and mental health issues who can’t wear masks. Maybe they would need to have a doctor’s note? Both could require you to share your private medical information with a stranger who is not a medical professional.

Since they can be faked pretty easily, what’s the point? Of course you could just wear a mask and avoid giving out your private information, or go elsewhere. Businesses can refuse service if you are not wearing shoes, but don’t need your medical information to make that decision.

Wearing a mask would make you stand out if most other customers aren’t. It’s not right to ask people to stand out and be different. We as a society have been working tirelessly to be inclusive and not have people who are different stand out.

What will businesses do with your private information? Is it appropriate to ask you if you had your flu shot and make you mask up if you can’t prove it? The Las Vegas strip has reopened with no restrictions. A hockey game in Vegas had 18,000 screaming maskless fans. Contrast that with the San Francisco Giants offering segregated sections according to vaccine status as of June 10.

Remember Gov. Gov. Newsom saying that he would coordinate restrictions with joining states, including Nevada?

I have avoided the mask debate up till now because masks were required for all who could wear one. Wearing a mask wasn’t a big deal to me, but I understood it was to others and that is OK by me.

Vaccination is shaping up to be yet another divisive issue for Californians. We need to accept that some of us will not get vaccinated.

Singling them out for special treatment in employment or daily life is wrong. It reminds me of the scary science fiction movie “Elysium,” where two classes of people struggle against each other. Our California government needs be inclusive and drop the mask mandate, like so many other states, or keep like it is now.

Choose one policy that includes all. We need unity now more than ever, not more state-sponsored division. Remember the phrase, “We are all in this together?” More than 55% of Californians have been vaccinated. At least 10% have caught the virus and now have immunity, with probably three times as many getting virus that never got tested.

Let’s all resist the urge to pile on and keep your vaccination curiosity to yourself. Don’t ask. I won’t be providing my private medical information, but I bet I will have to dump my principles at some point and accept the new normal: less privacy.

Gary Smith lives in Grass Valley.

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