The Centers for Diease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently warned older Americans of scams involving the COVID-19 vaccine.
In guidance entitled “What Older Adults Need to Know about COVID-19 Vaccines,” posted on Feb. 19, the CDC said adults 65 years of age and older — one of the first groups eligible to receive the jab — should be aware that COVID-19 vaccines are “free of charge” for those living in the U.S.
“If anyone asks you to pay for access to vaccine, you can bet it’s a scam,” the CDC said in the guidance. “Don’t share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for an extra fee.”
Though the vaccine is free of charge, “your vaccination provider may bill your insurance for administering the vaccine,” the CDC noted. “No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay this cost.”
Since the onset of COVID-19, scammers have used the pandemic to take advantage of Americans’ fears to make a quick buck. Just last week, for instance, federal officials announced that they’ve seized some 11 million fake N95 masks as part of a federal investigation into the foreign-made knockoffs that have been distributed to hospitals, medical facilities, and beyond in at least five states.
Since the pandemic began more than a year ago, federal officials have also seen an increase in phony websites purporting to sell vaccines, as well as fake medicine produced overseas, they said.
Overall, Homeland Security Investigations has used its 7,000 agents, along with border officials, the Food and Drug Administration and the FBI, to investigate the scams, seizing $33 million in phony products and arresting more than 200 people to date. The effort is based at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a government watchdog aimed at enforcing international trade laws and combating intellectual property theft.
Additionally, in line with helping Americans protect themselves from scammers, the Better Business Bureau earlier this month warned vaccine recipients to avoid sharing their COVID-19 vaccination cards on social media.
The personal information from the cards, which are used to track who has and hasn’t been vaccinated, can be used by scammers to create and sell imitation cards, the BBB said at the time, citing reports of individuals in Great Britain who were caught selling fake cards on eBay and TikTok.
“Unfortunately, your card has your full name and birthday on it, as well as information about where you got your vaccine,” the organization said. “If your social media privacy settings aren’t set high, you may be giving valuable information away for anyone to use.”
Fox Business’s Lucas Manfredi and the Associated Press contributed to this report.