Albany, NY – In an effort to help stem the growing number of fraudulent vaccination cards that are apparently 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 Assemblyman 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 superspreader 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 (forgery in the second degree). If there are 50 or more documents, such forgery would be considered a class C felony (forgery in the first degree). A class D felony in New York is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a class C felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D - Bronx) said: “There can be no tolerance for fraudulent vaccination cards in New York, whether you are buying or selling them. 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.”
A copy of the letter Assemblyman Dinowitz sent to the NYS Department of Health Commissioner can be viewed here.