Dinowitz introduces bill to help prosecute vaccination card forgers

FILE PHOTO: Argentina continues its vaccination process to medical staff with the Sputnik V vaccine
FILE PHOTO: Empty vials of the second dose of the Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine are pictured at the San Martin hospital, in La Plata, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

A Bronx lawmaker is hoping to curb the number of fraudulent vaccination cards that are available to New Yorkers and Americans nationwide.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is introducing legislation to make it easier for prosecutors to charge those forging or possessing a forged immunization record with a felony. The new bill from Dinowitz, chair of the Assembly Codes Committee, would add explicit language to the definitions of forgery in the second and third degrees that addresses forged immunization records.

As more people get vaccinated, stories have emerged of new ways for anti-vaxxers to circumvent public health regulations that require proof of immunization to participate in potential super spreader venues and activities. Posts on social media have drawn the attention of at least 47 attorneys general from around the United States and investigative journalists have uncovered numerous options on digital platforms, including Etsy, Telegram and others, to purchase or fabricate fraudulent vaccination cards.

The bill would add forged immunization records, “including but not limited to the COVID-19 vaccination record card approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control,” to the penal law as a class D felony. If there are 50 or more documents, such forgery would be considered a class C felony. A class D felony in New York is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a class C felony mandates 15 years in prison.

“There can be no tolerance for fraudulent vaccination cards in New York, whether you are buying or selling them,” Dinowitz said. “I am confident that this egregious behavior is already illegal according to countless state, local, and federal statutes but we should be explicitly clear in New York: if you get caught with a fake vaccination card, you will go to jail for a long time.

“I have also begun outreach to partners in government at the New York State Department of Health, New York State Attorney General, and New York State Police to solicit thoughts or recommendations on how the legislature can help fight against this dangerous and reckless fraud activity. People who are buying or selling fake vaccination cards are jeopardizing the public health. This immoral and selfish behavior must be stopped.”

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