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Yes, people are creating and using fake vaccination cards

fake vaccination cards
Photo via New York National Guard/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

People all over the U.S. are creating or buying fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to avoid having to get a vaccine. 

About 61% of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker. But it seems that the other 39% of the population simply aren’t interested, even though the vaccine is free.

A new survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that the majority of unvaccinated adults view COVID vaccines as a greater health risk than the virus itself. Nine out of 10 unvaccinated U.S. adults who say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine are either “not too worried” or “not at all worried” about getting sick from the coronavirus. Three-fourths of this group say getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a greater risk to their health than becoming infected with the coronavirus.

However, as the delta variant becomes more widespread, more and more businesses are requiring proof of vaccination, prompting unvaccinated people to find a loophole. And if they have a printer, stock-card paper, and the ability to use Google, then creating a fake vaccine card isn’t that hard. 

As Bloomberg noted, partisan social media, hospital websites, and places you’d normally get legal and tax forms all showcase free vaccine card temples. The state of Tennessee offered a version of the official vaccine card on its website, but it has since been removed over concerns it could be copied and used fraudulently. 

And as Keri Althoff, associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Bloomberg, people can “absolutely not” tell if a paper vaccine card wasn’t issued by a medical provider. 

Although there are no available statistics on how many fake cards are circulating in the U.S., there are several studies that show how many adults refuse to get the shot. 

According to the KFF survey, about 46% of unvaccinated adults say they will “definitely not” get a COVID vaccine in the future. But if they try to skate by with fake vaccination cards, they may face legal consequences. 

It’s considered a federal crime to buy, use, or sell fraudulent documents that bear a federal agency’s seal, and violators could face a fine and up to five years in prison. COVID vaccine cards include the logo of the CDC, a federal agency. 

As NBC News reported, two airline passengers entering Canada from the U.S. were fined nearly $16,000 each for submitting fake vaccination cards and COVID-19 test results.

In California, a bar owner in San Joaquin County was arrested in May 2021 on charges of selling fake cards after undercover state alcoholic beverage control agents allegedly bought four for $20 each, according to Pew. In New York, Nassau County police arrested a drugstore clerk in May on suspicion of stealing 54 blank vaccine cards and eight other ones that were prefilled and missing only names.

NPR reported that a vendor on Amazon was discovered selling a pack of black vaccine cards. The listing has since been removed, but the 10-pack reportedly was selling for $12.99. Other vendors selling fake cards have been found on Etsy, pro-Trump forums, and the dark web. 

A White House spokesperson told Bloomberg that the administration is aware of fake vaccine cards but will defer to law enforcement to police the matter when necessary. 

Read more on vaccine cards:

Sources: CDC, KFF, NPR, NBC, Pew, Bloomberg


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