Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it easier for prosecutors to take on vaccine card forgery cases in New York amid a rise in fakes being circulated.

The bill, backed by Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, would add language to the definitions of second-degree and third-degree forgery to address fraudulent vaccination cards. 

The measure is being proposed amid reports of people who opposed vaccinations seeking workarounds to public health regulations that require proof of immunization at public gathering spaces. 

 “There can be no tolerance for fraudulent vaccination cards in New York, whether you are buying or selling them,” said Dinowitz, a Bronx Democrat who leads the Assembly Codes Committee. “I am confident that this egregious behavior is already illegal according to countless state, local, and federal statutes but we should be explicitly clear in New York: if you get caught with a fake vaccination card, you will go to jail for a long time.”

The measure is being proposed as more New Yorkers are being vaccinated which has come alongside a drop in new COVID-19 positive cases across the state. On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced more than 48% of all New Yorkers regardless of age have received at least one vaccine dose, and 38.7% have completed the vaccination series. 

New York on May 19 is planning a broad reopening of gathering spaces and businesses, with pandemic restrictions being eased in a number of areas, including sports and concert venues. But many of these areas will require proof of vaccination or a recent COVID-19 test. 

Cuomo last week announced baseball stadiums, for instance, will have separate seating for vaccinated people in attendance and those who have not received the shot. 

The Dinowitz proposal would add forged immunization records to a list of felonies for forgery, with up to 15 years in prison as a penalty. 

“I have also begun outreach to partners in government at the New York State Department of Health, New York State Attorney General, and New York State Police to solicit thoughts or recommendations on how the legislature can help fight against this dangerous and reckless fraud activity,” Dinowitz said. “People who are buying or selling fake vaccination cards are jeopardizing the public health. This immoral and selfish behavior must be stopped.”