How to Spot a Fake Vaccine Card

  • By Emmett
  • Jun 10, 2022

vaccination record card

In 2021, the U.S. Border Patrol seized nearly 23,000 fake CDC vaccination cards, a number that represents only a fraction of the total fake card market. Even if you know what to look for, some fake vaccination cards can be difficult to identify. The first step is to learn what exactly a vaccine card is, and the common clues to look for when you believe one has been falsified. 

What is a Vaccine Card?

A vaccine card is a document specifically related to your COVID-19 vaccination, as opposed to a vaccine record which provides a history of all immunizations you have received. Your vax card will be given to you after your first COVID-19 vaccination and will contain information like: 

  • Your first name, last name, and middle initial
  • Date of birth
  • Patient number
  • Type of vaccine
  • Date of immunization
  • Healthcare professional or clinic site

With each COVID-19 immunization, another block of information will be filled in; this will include the type of vaccine, the date you received each subsequent shot, and the site of the immunization. That’s why it's important to hold onto your card and to take a picture after initially receiving it. You’ll need that card when you return for your second dose or booster so your provider will have the medical information they need. 

You may also be asked for your card at any business or venue that requires proof of vaccination. Many private businesses either instituted these policies voluntarily or were instructed to by mandates, with government buildings in many states also requiring proof of vaccination. This is what led many, who didn’t wish to get a vaccine, to seek fake vaccination cards. 

Tips for Spotting a Fake Vaccination Card

While some cards may be obviously fake, others can be very convincing. There are several elements you should look at when determining if a vaccine card is fake, including:

How to Spot a Fake Vaccine Card

  • Incorrect Dates: One common mistake that card forgery will make is not lining up the dates properly on the vaccinations. The first and second dose should be several weeks apart; if the difference between the two is much shorter or longer, that should raise suspicions. Also make sure that the second dose and any boosters are dated after the initial dose. Criminals aren’t always the brightest, and may accidentally create an immunization timeline that isn’t even possible. 
  • Mispelt Words: Another error present on many fake vaccine cars is misspelled words. If the name of the manufacturer, name of the care provider, or any medical terminology is misspelled, the card is almost certainly a fake. On some cards, the fake will even have the name of the vaccine recipient spelt wrong; make sure to read the card over closely to catch any spelling errors. 
  • Unknown Manufacturers: For the most part, the manufacturers of the vaccine written on the card will be either Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson (J&J). While there are some other vaccine manufacturers, any name but these three should be researched and verified. 
  • Fake Providers: If you are familiar with the area, you may spot incorrect or fake provider information. If the forger doesn’t know what clinics are in the area, they will usually just make one up. With the right knowledge this can be spotted easily, and a quick online search will verify the provider is indeed fake. 
  • Thin Material: A real vaccine card should be made of a thicker material like cardstock, not a thin piece of normal printer paper. If the person who created the fake card isn’t attentive to detail, they’ll usually just use whatever materials they have on hand. If the paper seems to have been cut by scissors, that too is a red flag; a standard cdc card will not have the border left behind on cut paper. 
  • Zero or Inconsistent Handwriting: If all of the text on the card is printed, that is a big indicator the document has been falsified. Real vaccine cards will show handwriting from each provider indicating what manufacturer’s vaccine was administered, the date of the immunization, and where the immunization took place. If there is handwriting, but it's the same for both shots or the booster, that should raise your suspicions as well. Because the shots take place weeks apart, the medical professional who administers the immunization will almost always be a different person. 

Faking a Vaccine Card is a Federal Offense

If you identify someone who has a fake vaccine card, be cautious; falsifying a document like a vax card is a federal offense, and the person carrying it is engaged in identity theft. Don’t share any personal information with someone in possession of a fake vaccination card; if you do, you’ll want to run an identity threat scan to make sure your information is safe. Don’t post pictures of your vaccine card, as this could be used as a template to create a fake! Always be on the lookout for scammers, and take every precaution to safeguard your information online.

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