Travel | January 25, 2021 2:19 pm

Anti-Vaxxers Beside Themselves Over Potential “Vaccine Discounts” on Airbnb

A discourse unfurled over the weekend surrounding the ethics of offering a discount to inoculated guests

Anti-Vaxxers Beside Themselves Over Potential “Vaccine Discounts” on Airbnb
NurPhoto/Airbnb

Over the weekend, The Daily Beast’s Daniel Modlin reported on a controversy brewing within the very online community of Airbnb hosts.

“How do I offer a 50% discount to vaccinated guests?” host Thomas David Keho asked in a private Facebook group called “Airbnb Host Community – Vent, Recommend, Discuss.”

It was a question initially intended to be of little to no consequence, but unsurprisingly went on to attract the attention of thousands of other hosts who took the opportunity to weigh in on the issue, leading to a chasm between two distinct vaccine-related opinions. Many members of the group — a lot of whom are admittedly anti-vaxxers — cried discrimination, asserting that such a discount would be a “fair-housing violation” and potentially even a breach of HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Others voiced support for Keho, his proposition and science as a whole.

To be clear, inquiring about a renter’s vaccination status is not a violation of HIPAA, as was confirmed by a Georgetown University public health expert with whom The Daily Beast spoke. In fact, it’s standard practice for many businesses (e.g., schools and childcare) to request immunization records prior to entry. While the ethics of offering a discount to vaccinated guests — particularly in the wake of what has been a less-than-stellar first few months of distribution — can certainly be debated, the suggestion to do so is not in obvious violation of renter’s rights. Or, as of now, Airbnb’s policies.

While all pricing and subsequent discounts are offered at the discretion of the host, everyone is required to adhere to the same guidelines, including the company nondiscrimination policy. As many hosts in the Facebook group were quick to point out, though, offering a vaccine-discount would not exclude anyone from staying in an Airbnb, only from receiving said discount. Airbnb has yet to proclaim an official stance on the matter.

We recently wrote about calls for passengers to be vaccinated prior to flying, which has been met with similar resistance, as well as about the ethics of post-vaccine travel, and it’s clear that the topic of the vaccination is fast becoming a lightning rod for controversy throughout the industry. That being said, if you find yourself in the market for an Airbnb but are perturbed by their COVID guidelines or a host’s obvious support for the vaccine, perhaps just consider an alternate stay — or better yet, stay home.

You can read the full story from The Daily Beast here.