Thursday, May 20, 2021

Coronavirus Update 5-20-2021: Fake Covid vaccine cards are a growing problem, and also a federal crime

Fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine cards are readily available online, and their prevalence will only grow with the CDC's loosening of its mitigation guidelines for the fully vaccinated.

The problem has gotten so bad that the FBI is now warning people that making or buying a fake COVID-19 vaccination record card is a federal crime.

If you did not receive the vaccine, do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill-in blank vaccination record cards with false information. By misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms, or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, the unauthorized use of an official government agency's seal (such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) is a crime, and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws.

For the record, 18 U.S.C. sec. 1017 criminalizes the fraudulent or wrongful use of a government seal (in this case, that of the CDC). It is punishable by imprisonment of up to five years. People are getting busted and arrested. And yet the market is growing as the anti-vax and vaccine-hesitant crowd look for a way to establish vaccination status for things like unmasking and travel instead of getting the actual vaccination.

So as you talk to your employees about the safety and importance of the Covid vaccine and why everyone should get it as soon as possible, also clue them into the fact that the creation or use of a fake vaccine card is a federal crime punishable of up to five years in prison. 

And if you're collecting vaccine cards from your employees, understand that some might be fake. I'm not saying you shouldn't turn them into the FBI if you suspect or discover them, but I'm not saying you shouldn't either (at least after you've warned your employees of the potential consequences). This a real crime with a potentially dangerous consequences, as it gives others a false sense of security about one's vaccination status, and could lead to the further spread of this dangerous and deadly virus. We all want this pandemic to end, but lying about whether you've been vaccinated doesn't help us get there.