Bill tackles fraudulent proof of vaccination

A COVID-19 vaccination record card needs appropriate information filled out by a healthcare professional. Photo courtesy:

We are about to begin a third year with the COVID-19 pandemic roiling the nation, and not even scientists are sure when — or if —it will come to an end.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical experts, it is not yet known what percentage of the world’s population need to be vaccinated to provide herd immunity.

While the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated continues to increase, there are individuals who refuse to be inoculated. There are also unvaccinated people who are misrepresenting their status, saying they are vaccinated when they aren’t.

Members of the Florida Legislature hope to address that segment of the population.

Senate Bill 284 focuses on fraudulent proof of vaccination and would result in criminal penalties.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Tina Scott Polsky, D-Palm Beach, and the bill’s effective date would be October 1, 2022, if it is approved by both chambers.

According to the bill, anyone who counterfeits, forges, alters, clones, or possesses an electronic or physical vaccination identification card that falsely indicates their vaccination status, would commit a third-degree felony.

There have been high-profile pro sports cases involving fraudulent proof of vaccination. The NFL earlier this season suspended Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown. According to The Tampa Bay Times, the investigation was a joint review with the NFL Players Association after allegations came from Brown’s former personal chef, Steven Ruiz. Not only did Brown serve a three-game suspension for violating the league’s health and safety protocols, he also could be charged as a felon and face up to five years in prison.

On the campus of FAMU, it is a requirement that each and every student report their vaccination status to Student Health Services, whether they’ve received doses of the vaccine or not.

“We do need your immunization records, in order for you to be able to register for classes,” said Tanya Tatum, director of Student Health Services.

While everyone in Florida has the right to not be vaccinated, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis, students should be aware of the repercussions that would come as a result of using or selling fake vaccination cards. If a student presented inaccurate information on their vaccination card, they could run the risk of being disciplined from the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution.