As COVID-19 cases steadily decline, pandemic scams are on the rise. Fake vaccination cards and stimulus check scams were just the beginning. Now, criminals are targeting those looking to become vaccinated with counterfeit vaccines.
The Latest on Fake COVID-19 Vaccines and Scams
Pfizer reported its first fake vaccines in Mexico when 80 people received counterfeit doses. The vaccines averaged at $1,000 per dose. Poland also reported fake Pfizer vaccines that were an anti-wrinkle treatment instead. The doses were found at an apartment, but there are no reports that anyone received them.
Federal investigators also recently shut down a counterfeit vaccine website that used fake logos from Pfizer, the World Health Organization and the United National High Commissioner for Refugees. FreeVacineCOVAX.com disguised itself as a biotechnology company that offered COVID-19 vaccines but was designed to get personal information for fraud, malware and phishing.
Government officials are warning people to beware of fake COVID-19 vaccines, website scams and unsolicited emails. If you notice any suspicious vaccine activity, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do Not Buy COVID-19 Vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines are free of charge at health care providers and official vaccination clinics. Purchasing COVID-19 vaccines means you’re not only paying unnecessary costs but also welcoming a significant health risk when you’re not sure what’s being injected. Official vaccines underwent extensive research, testing and regulation to be considered safe.
WHO also found that organizations are receiving offers to supply vaccines from suspicious individuals and organizations. Other criminals are reintroducing expired vaccines that have not followed the vaccine’s necessary cold chain for safe distribution. If Pfizer vaccines aren’t stored correctly in their temperature-safe container, they could be dangerous if injected.
Northwestern University professor Mansoor Amiji shared the dangers of fake COVID-19 vaccines to keep in mind. First, the counterfeit vaccines won’t slow the spread of COVID-19 or prevent someone from catching it. They can also cause unforeseen health issues from a mystery injection. And those who believe they are receiving a vaccine against COVID-19 are given a false sense of security.
WHO encourages vaccine sites to safely dispose of empty vaccine vials to avoid them being used by criminals. For your safety, it’s best to wait for an available vaccine appointment at an official site before buying with uncertainty.
COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Reminders
The thought of getting a fake vaccine is terrifying, but Northwestern University and the Department of Homeland Security shared ways to ensure you’re getting the vaccine.
- Don’t buy COVID-19 vaccines online. Remember, vaccines are free.
- Only get the vaccine from a licensed doctor or medical professional. And make sure they’re approved to administer it.
- Avoid buying a vaccine through an online pharmacy.
- Beware of COVID-19 treatments or other medicines.
- Report unsolicited emails, calls, social media ads, or messages for vaccines.
- Don’t trust anyone offering to help with COVID-19 vaccines, waiting lists or registration in exchange for money.
- Remember, don’t reply and avoid sending any personal information.
It’s best to choose a place where you feel most comfortable getting the vaccine and call for any registration questions. If retailers or other stores are a concern, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for vaccine questions and appointment availability. If you’re concerned about the legitimacy of a vaccine site or registration website, check the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s COVID-19 Rumor page to clarify any rumors or get official answers to questions.