Falsifying Covid vax records a crime

Originally published in The Manhattan Times News

Keep it real – or else.

The legislation specifies new statutes regarding the forgery of vaccine documents.

New York State has passed a law that makes falsification of Covid-19 vaccination records a crime.

The “Truth in Vaccination” bill specifies that a Covid-19 Vaccination Card shall be considered “a written instrument for purposes of the forgery statute,” which is punishable by up to one year in prison.

In addition, the legislation amends the penal law to create a crime of “intentionally altering computer material to indicate that a person received a vaccination against Covid-19.” Tampering with vaccination-related computer records will be considered a Class E felony, which can be punished by up to four years in jail.

Sponsored by State Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Anna M. Kaplan, the legislation was signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul on December 22.

The new state law takes effect immediately.

“We need to make sure we learn the lessons of the pandemic so we don’t make the same mistakes twice. These new laws will help us improve our response to the pandemic now, crack down on fraudulent use of vaccination records, and help us better understand the areas of improvement we need to make to our health care system so we can be even more prepared down the road,” said Hochul.

Sales of fake vaccine cards have skyrocketed since federal and local government mandates were implemented regarding proof of Covid vaccination. Public web forums have also spread tips for how to create fake cards.

“Vaccine requirements work. The data is clear. However, when we have a preponderance of fake vaccine records, that lulls New Yorkers into a false sense of public health safety and undermines the protections that vaccine requirements provide to everyone,” said Dinowitz, who represents the Bronx. “This law will help ensure that New Yorkers are as safe as they can be from this virus while going to work or patronizing a business, and I thank Governor Hochul for making the right choice to sign it.”

In a statement, the District Attorneys Association of The State Of New York (DAASNY) called the legislation “a powerful message that New York State will not tolerate fraudulent vaccination cards, whether on paper or electronically.”

The new law takes effect immediately.