LASATA: Beware of COVID-19 vaccine scams

More people are becoming eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination ahead of schedule with the availability of a third vaccine and an increasing number of doses being delivered each week.

There are still some problems to contend with in terms of vaccine distribution, however. Some counties are receiving fewer doses per eligible person due to the Whitmer administration’s social equity policy, which may be hindering the ability of some eligible southwest Michiganders to get a shot.

I was pleased with recent news that the Van Buren/Cass Health Department opened up 1,500 COVID-19 vaccine appointments between March 8-12 for eligible Cass County residents, and I’ll continue to have conversations with local leaders and state officials about improving vaccine distribution.

Another emerging problem, though, and one that is rather sickening, are fraudsters who are capitalizing on the vulnerable and others who are desperate to get a vaccine by scamming them out of money and their personal information. According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, there are a few ways scammers are targeting people. Here are some things to look out for:

•You are asked to pay out of pocket for a vaccine.

• You are asked to pay just to add your name to a vaccine waiting list.

• Social media advertisements and other direct marketing campaigns offering shots.

• Marketers offering to sell and/or ship vaccine doses for payment.

If you believe you may have been the victim of COVID-19 vaccine fraud, you’re encouraged to report incidents by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS, 1-800-CALL-FBI or 1-800-MEDICARE.

Please contact your local public health department if you are looking to get a vaccine and follow their prompts for signing up.

 

Kim LaSata, R, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties. She can be reached at (517) 373-6960 or SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov.

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