COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

The following information is taken from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Reports on the release of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year are promising, but plans for distribution are still being worked out.

Here’s what we know currently: The vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech has been authorized for Emergency Use while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving towards finalizing the Emergency Use Authorization of Moderna’s vaccine. Additional vaccine manufacturers are expected to apply for FDA authorization in 2021.

The distribution of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to federal- and state-approved locations has begun. For most people living in the U.S., states and territories will make the final decisions on who will get the vaccines and when. States are also working on their own specific vaccination plans. New York State received an initial allocation of enough doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for 170,000 New Yorkers and expects to receive more doses this month. The first New Yorkers to receive the vaccine will be high-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff), nursing home residents, nursing home staff, followed by all long-term and congregate care residents and staff, EMS workers, other health care workers, coroners and medical examiners. Staff at every hospital will have access to the first vaccine allocation. For more information on New York State’s distribution plans, visit the New York Forward website.

While we wait for a timeline and more information, there’s no doubt scammers will be scheming. Here’s what you need to know to avoid a vaccine-related scam:

  • You likely will not need to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine during this public health emergency.
  • You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
  • You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine.
  • No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Social Security number or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.
  • Beware of providers offering other products, treatments, or medicines to prevent the virus. Check with your health care provider before paying for or receiving any COVID-19-related treatment.

If you get a call, text, email — or even someone knocking on your door — claiming they can get you early access to the vaccine, STOP. That’s a scam. Don’t pay for a promise of vaccine access or share personal information. Instead, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or file a complaint with your state or territory attorney general through consumerresources.org.

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