NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today issued an alert to protect New Yorkers from the dangers of fake coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination cards. The sale or distribution of blank or fraudulently-completed vaccination cards to individuals who have not actually received a vaccine poses a serious threat to the health of New York communities, and will impede the progress that has been made in combatting COVID-19. Falsifying vaccine cards and records, as well as the unauthorized use of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) seals, also violate various federal and New York state laws and is subject to civil and criminal enforcement.
“As the Delta variant becomes more prominent, it is more important than ever for New Yorkers to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Attorney General James. “Not only do fake and fraudulently-completed vaccination cards violate federal and state laws and the public trust, but they also put the health of our communities at risk and potentially prolong this public health crisis. I strongly urge New Yorkers to reject these fake vaccination cards and get the COVID-19 vaccine, so that we can move forward from this pandemic and return to normalcy as soon as possible.”
COVID-19 vaccines are now available to all New Yorkers 12 years of age and older, and must be administered free of charge. To find a New York state operated vaccination site, please visit this the state’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker website. Other vaccination sites can be found online.
Legitimate CDC vaccination cards are provided to individuals once they receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If an individual receives the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — which require two doses — they will receive a vaccination card after their first dose that will be updated after the second dose. Those getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will receive their vaccination card after their single dose. New Yorkers are urged not to share pictures of this card online or on social media, or to at least blur out private information (date of birth, vaccination lot number, etc.). Scammers can use New Yorkers’ personal information to steal their identity, and use pictures to create fake cards.
New Yorkers can access proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result digitally on their smartphone using one of the two Excelsior Pass apps, which are available for free from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Use of the Excelsior Pass apps are voluntary, and with these apps, New Yorkers can easily retrieve and store a digital form of vaccine records or negative test results and avoid misplacing or damaging their vaccination card. New Yorkers can learn more about the Excelsior Pass apps online.
Relatedly, this past April, Attorney General James and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general sent letters to a number of companies asking them to act immediately to prevent the sale of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards on their platforms.
Separately, last week, Attorney General James, leading a coalition of advocates, sent a letter to Facebook, urging the company to address and dispel harmful and inaccurate myths about the COVID-19 virus and the available vaccines on its platform that have targeted Latino communities. This letter came after Attorney General James and a coalition of attorneys general sent an earlier letter to both Facebook and Twitter, in March 2021, calling on the companies to enforce company guidelines against vaccine misinformation.
In April, Attorney General James issued an alert urging New Yorkers to report unlawful vaccine charges as the vaccines are and always have been free of charge.
Lastly, in March, Attorney General James issued an alert to New Yorkers to beware of scams making fraudulent promises to consumers that they could cut COVID-19 vaccine lines or receive additional stimulus payments. This alert followed an earlier alert, in December 2020, where Attorney General James warned New Yorkers about potential scams offering early access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Any New Yorker that believes they have been a victim of a COVID-19 vaccination card scam should contact the Office of the Attorney General by calling 1-800-771-7755 or filing a complaint online.