Fake vaccine cards: NY lawmakers aim to increase penalties for fraudsters

covid vaccine card

A COVID-19 vaccine card. (File/Getty)

NEW YORK — Assembly lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday that would make it a felony to forge or possess fake immunization records, including COVID-19 vaccine cards.

The bill was introduced in response to reports of fake COVID vaccine cards sold or otherwise obtained in New York and across the country, according to an Assembly news release.

The bill applies to, but is not limited to COVID-19 vaccine cards.

Under the legislation, sponsored by Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, anyone caught forging proof of immunization or in possession of a fake vaccination document could be charged with a class D or class C felony, depending on the number of fraudulent records. Anyone knowingly in possession of a fake COVID vaccine card could be found guilty of first- or second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Dinowitz said the proposed updates to the state’s forgery law are a matter of public safety.

“New Yorkers deserve to know that when they attend an event or go to a ballgame where proof of vaccination is required that those around them are not putting people at risk by using forged documents,” Dinowitz said in a statement on Thursday. “This is a public health issue, and after the devastating loss of life that we experienced over the last year, it is critical that we take all reasonable steps to ensure that New Yorkers can safely begin to resume their lives.”

The Senate still needs to vote on the legislation and Gov. Andrew Cuomo would need to sign it into law.

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