How to tell if a vaccine card is real or fake, according to a physician who specializes in authenticating them

Depending on the state of vaccination, information can be printed, handwritten, or on a sticker.

As fake vaccine cards become a nationwide problem, it’s crucial to know how to verify one.
Ensure the ID on the card matches a driver’s license, then check for appropriate dose intervals.
Pay attention to the handwriting and lot numbers, and contact the vaccination site with questions.

With cities like New York and LA as well as many major companies moving toward some kind of vaccine requirement, the question arises as to how employers, restaurant owners, and others can evaluate the validity of vaccine cards, especially as fakes become a nationwide problem.

In July, a California woman was arrested and charged with giving out fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, while last month, Manhattan prosecutors announced they’d charged 15 people, including some healthcare workers, in connection with a scheme to sell fake vaccine cards.

Tashof Bernton.

As a practicing physician and president of ImmunaBand – a company I founded in December 2020 that sells a silicon bracelet with a QR code directing a person to a password-protected copy of their vaccine – I’ve been grappling with this question of authenticating vaccine cards since the rollout of the vaccine. Here’s what you need to know.

Be familiar with the standard CDC card and its appearance

The standard CDC card includes an official CDC seal, the person’s name, the date of their vaccination, lot numbers, and the site where they received the vaccine. The CDC itself doesn’t propose any specific criteria to assess the authenticity of vaccination cards.

However, review of the specific elements of the card can help you assess for evidence of fraud. Some elements of the card should be printed, some are handwritten, and some are stickers. The exact appearance varies with the individual site within states.

At ImmunaBand, we always check the following:

Personal information: Is all personal information available on the card, and does it match other identification documentation, such as a driver’s license? Dates: Are the intervals between the doses of Moderna or Pfizer vaccinations within the appropriate intervals, approximately 21 days apart for the Pfizer vaccination and approximately (within five days) 28 days apart for the Moderna vaccination? Fakes often have the dates wrong. Handwriting: Most times (especially at large vaccination centers), you don’t have the same handwriting recording both doses. Small pharmacies may.Lot number: All cards contain the lot number of the vaccine administered. A lot number is a number given to a specific batch as it was manufactured and is used by the vaccine manufacturers to track where each batch goes. Lot numbers should be different for the two vaccinations. If they’re the same, it’s a red flag. In addition, the vaccinations in a single lot are generally delivered to a single geographic location, so if a card from Colorado has the same lot number as another from New York, that’s also a red flag.

Get to know who you can call for help

Not all sites use the standard CDC card. Sites that don’t are often hospitals or other larger systems.

While the elements present (other than the CDC seal) are the same as the standard CDC card, the format is different for each nonstandard card. When in doubt about the appearance of a nonstandard card, contact the vaccination site (or system issuing the card) directly to verify. Business owners can also consider outsourcing the process of evaluating vaccine and booster documentation using a vaccine passport app.

Fraudulent cards can be reported to your state attorney general’s office or online to the Department of Health and Human Services.

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