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Consumer Alert: Watch out for counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine offers

Friday, February 19, 2021

As North Carolina continues to administer vaccines to people across the state, please be on the lookout for offers for unapproved or counterfeit vaccines. Here’s what you should know about these offers and about other COVID-19 vaccine scams:

  • Beware of counterfeit vaccines or miracle cures. There are currently only two COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States – the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. If other vaccines are approved by the FDA, they will be listed here. Scammers may try to sell you a trafficked or counterfeit vaccine – avoid them by ensuring that you schedule your vaccine appointment through a legitimate provider. Find local vaccine providers through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.
  • Vaccines are free, even if you don’t have insurance. If you’re being offered a vaccine for a fee or at a “very low” price, it’s a scam. Vaccines cannot be purchased. Some scammers may reserve several appointment slots at once, and then try to sell them to the highest bidder. You should not pay for any appointment – don’t give these scammers your money or your personal data.
  • Don’t believe claims of “miracle cures” or new treatments that will protect you from COVID-19. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • You cannot get the vaccine before it’s your turn and do not pay anyone to move up in the line. North Carolina is currently vaccinating through a phased group approach based on public health guidance to protect those most at risk. You can find your vaccine group here.
  • If you are a health care provider or work for a health care facility, be skeptical of out-of-the-blue offers to vaccinate residents, staff, and patients from people or organizations you’re not familiar with. Vaccinations should be coordinated through public health and government bodies.
  • Safeguard your vaccine card data. These cards are to help you track your vaccination, and they contain personal information. If you post pictures of them online, it’s easier for scammers to steal your information and commit ID theft, or to create their own fake vaccination ID cards. Instead of sharing your vaccine card, consider sharing your vaccine stickers/buttons or other social media features instead.
  • If you’re registering to get a vaccine, make sure that the website or link you are using is legitimate. You can verify by calling the health department or provider or by searching for the link independently online. Look for the lock icon and a URL beginning with https in the address bar. If a link is asking for your bank account, Social Security, or credit card numbers, don’t share them – it’s a scam.

You can stay up to date on North Carolina’s vaccine rollout and learn more about how to get your vaccine at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines. If you or a loved one has questions about a possible scam or fear you’ve been victimized, contact our office’s Consumer Protection Division at ncdoj.gov/complaint or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.