Washington Bill Would Criminalize Fake Vaccine Cards

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OLYMPIA, WA — Washington lawmakers may decide to criminalize the sale and use of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards.

Earlier this month, Washington state Sen. Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline) introduced Senate Bill 5667, along with five other co-sponsors. The bill, which had its first public hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on Monday, would make it a class C felony to sell or offer false vaccination cards. Using a fake card to enter a business or otherwise falsely claiming to be vaccinated would be a misdemeanor charge. In Washington, a simple misdemeanor can result in up to 90 days behind bars and a fine up to $1,000. A class C felony is punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

That may sound drastic to some, but supporters say it’s necessary to prevent COVID-19 transmission in the community. A similar law has already been passed in New York.

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“I can’t imagine a worse time for someone to falsify proof of a vaccination than during a pandemic, as we’re facing now,” Salomon said. “This is the most serious public health threat of our lifetimes, a true life-and-death issue for people who are medically vulnerable or unable to get vaccinated due to health issues.”

In Washington, proof of vaccination is required to enter large public gatherings. King County has implemented stricter vaccine requirements for restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms and other businesses, but businesses across the state have been encouraged to implement their own vaccine requirements by checking visitors’ vaccine cards at the door.

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As some people try to skirt vaccine requirements, a cottage industry of vaccine card forgeries has sprung up online. According to Salomon’s office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have already intercepted and seized thousands of phony vaccine cards in the mail. Salomon said criminalizing those fake cards further will hopefully disincentivize their use and protect Washington’s most vulnerable residents.

“This is simply about truth in advertising and honest documentation,” Salomon said. “People who are medically vulnerable or who want to avoid exposure to the virus deserve to know that documentation of a vaccination can be trusted.”

The state is set to take executive action on the bill this Thursday.

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