Attorney General Letitia James warns of COVID vaccine-related scams

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NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 11: New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference, June 11, 2019 in New York City. James announced that New York, California, and seven other states have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. James said that the merger would deprive customers of the benefits of competition and potentially drive up prices for cellphone service. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York Attorney General (AG) Letitia James sent out a warning Monday telling New Yorkers to be wary of COVID vaccine-related scams. Right now nursing home residents, those who care for them and many healthcare workers are receiving the vaccine. The vaccine will not be available to the general public for several more months, according to the AG.

In keeping with federal guidelines, long-term care residents and staff and other healthcare workers, then certain essential workers, and finally members of the general population will be offered the vaccine next.

When the vaccine hits the general public those with people at the highest risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms, such as someone over 65 with an underlying condition like cancer.

The AG continues to warn of scammers offering access to the vaccine through, email, phone or text. She is also warning of scammers impersonating public health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) and even a local health department.

They may also offer to ship a COVID-19 vaccine directly to homes, provide special access to vaccines or clinical trials, or sell special cold storage device for vaccines. 

Here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Be wary of anyone calling or emailing you with offers of a vaccine and do not give out your Social Security number, personal credit card, or bank account information. No one from a vaccine distributor, health care company or private insurance company will ask for this information.  
  • If you have health insurance, you should not need to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine while the pandemic remains a public health emergency. If you don’t have health insurance, the provider may only charge an administration fee. However, in many instances, you likely will not be required to pay the administration fee.
  • You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine or to get into a vaccine clinical trial.
  • If you get an e-mail about a COVID-19 vaccine or clinical trial, check the sender’s email domain to make sure it matches the website of the organization sending the e-mail and be wary of clicking on any hyperlinks or providing any login or other personal information.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use so far. The Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is authorized for use in individuals 16 years of age and older, while the Moderna vaccine is authorized for use in individuals 18 and older.

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