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Cowboys' Jerry Hints at Dak Vaccination Status; What About HIPAA?

The Dallas Cowboys' quarterback has refused to divulge his COVID status, incorrectly citing HIPAA laws

While Dak Prescott remains mum on the topic, his boss strongly suggests that the Dallas Cowboys star quarterback is fully vaccinated against COVID.

In the wake of the NFL's new COVID policy which could prompt forfeits by teams that suffer outbreaks of unvaccinated players, angry stars began speaking out and one team - the Minnesota Vikings - even fired an assistant coach for refusing to get vaccinated. Prescott, however, didn't want to engage the topic when asked last week at training camp in Oxnard, California.

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"I don't necessarily think that's important," Prescott said when asked if he was vaccinated. "I think that's HIPAA."

It is not, of course, a question - or answer - protected by HIPAA laws. But it's also (mostly) no longer a mystery after owner Jerry Jones went on TV Sunday night in Dallas-Fort Worth and all but confirmed that Prescott has received the vaccination.

"By not answering, I think Dak was leaving the heavy lifting on that question to other people," Jones said during an interview with Fox4's Mike Doocy. "But let me say this: He's doing everything possible - everything - to get ready to help this team win. So there's your answer right there. I think I've answered your question."

While the Cowboys attempt to reach the NFL's mandated threshold of an 85-percent vaccination rate, the lingering, mutating virus is educating all of us - including Prescott - on the fine print of HIPAA.

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was created in the mid-1990s to help streamline and update how health insurance was sold, and it included provisions about how patients' electronic data was stored. Within HIPAA is the "privacy rule," which prohibits medical professionals, insurance employees or the third parties that manage that data from revealing patients' private medical records.

HIPAA isn't, however, a shield against answering health questions. Especially in the NFL, where the health of players will always be an important question.

A media member asking a player about his vaccination status is not and never has been a HIPAA violation. It doesn't apply to the media, no matter how badly someone wants it to be. Prescott isn't the first - or last - person to be ignorant of HIPAA guidelines.

The Cowboys' quarterback answering questions about his vaccination status is no more illegal, or protected, than him talking about the rehab of his badly broken leg and ankle. Both are relevant to keeping him healthy and on the field in 2021.

Prescott's impressive play in Oxnard has answered the questions about his leg. His owner has all but confirmed he's also protected from COVID.