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FBI threatens up to 5 years prison time, fines for faking COVID-19 vaccine record cards

A vaccine. (Dreamstime/TNS)
April 05, 2021

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning Americans that making or purchasing a fake COVID-19 vaccination record card is illegal and could be punishable by fines or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.

“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,” the FBI’s public service announcement warned on Tuesday. “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.”

The bureau said that unauthorized use of agencies’ official seals, including the Health and Human Services Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a crime punishable under Title 18 of United States Code, Section 1017, as well as other applicable laws.

Additionally, the FBI advised against posting vaccination cards on social media due to concerns of fraud. The agency also recommended that businesses, schools, places of worship and government agencies continue social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment “because individuals may use fake vaccine cards to misrepresent themselves as vaccinated.”

The statement also included a tip-line to “report suspicious activity involving fake vaccination record cards.”

The warning comes as “vaccine passport” discussions continue to gain momentum in the United States. Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration is helping a range of companies create standards to help Americans prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19, one administration official said.  

Coordinated by the White House, several government agencies are participating in planning, another official said.  

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said no federal mandate would be implemented requiring Americans use a vaccine passport, no would there be a centralized federal database. However, she said the administration expects the private sector to push “a determination or development of a vaccine passport, or whatever you want to call it.”

In response to the proposed vaccine passports, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning their implementation in his state.

“No Florida government entity, or its subdivisions, agents, or assigns, shall be permitted to issue vaccine passports, vaccine passes, or other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status to a third party,” the order stated.

In the executive order, DeSantis asserted that “requiring so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life – such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant, or going to a movie theater – would create two classes of citizens based on vaccinations.”

He continued, “It is necessary to protect the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and free flow of commerce in the state.”