Gov. Hochul signs law that makes falsification of COVID-19 vaccine records a state crime

Coronavirus

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation Wednesday that makes producing or using fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards a state crime.

The law, (S.4516-C/A.7536-B), was part of a package of laws the governor signed Wednesday designed to “improve the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new law added clarification that a COVID vaccination card “shall be considered a written instrument for purposes of the forgery statute which makes the falsification of COVID-19 Vaccination Cards a class A misdemeanor.”

Additionally, the law also creates a new E felony of computer tampering in the third degree for intentional entering, alteration or destruction of “computer material” regarding COVID-19 vaccine provisions.

Using or producing a fake vaccine card was already deemed to be a violation of federal law. According to federal prosecutors, people caught misrepresenting the official seal of a U.S. agency, like the CDC logo on vaccine cards, could face up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine.

“We need to make sure we learn the lessons of the pandemic so we don’t make the same mistakes twice,” Gov. Hochul said. “These new laws will help us improve our response to the pandemic now, crack down on fraudulent use of vaccination records, and help us better understand the areas of improvement we need to make to our health care system so we can be even more prepared down the road.”

“With the omicron variant putting our community at greater risk and threatening the progress we’ve made recovering from the pandemic, countless employers, schools, small businesses, and communities are relying on genuine proof of vaccination status as a tool to keep their spaces safe from COVID transmission,” said Senator Anna Kaplan. “It’s never been more urgent that we protect this process from fraud so that the health and safety of the public isn’t compromised by bad actors using fraudulent vaccination cards or passports. The ‘Truth in Vaccination’ law will serve as a strong deterrent to prevent people from lying about their vaccination status, protecting public health, and ensuring our economic recovery can move forward.”

“The data is clear on vaccination requirements – they work,” said Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz. “However, the remarkable ease at which it appears that New Yorkers could falsify vaccination records to feign compliance is astonishing. This new law will undoubtedly help prosecutors and other law enforcement hold people accountable for the damage they are doing to public health by undermining the efficacy of vaccination requirements in workplaces, businesses, restaurants, and more.”

Other new laws included in Wednesday’s package:

  • (S.4962/A.5062) Gives schools improved access to the statewide immunization database
  • (S.6375/A.5713) Directs the commissioner of health to conduct a study of the delivery of ambulatory care and other medical care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • (S.6070-A/A.7324-A) Directs the department of financial services to conduct a study on certain impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

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