Mike Grieco files bill to make forging, possessing fake vaccine cards a felony

COVID-19 Vaccination Record card and reminder for a second dose. Part of Vaccination immune passport or international certificate.
"If you choose not to get vaccinated, you do not have the right to lie about it."

A bill filed Wednesday for the 2022 Session of the Florida Legislature aims to raise the stakes for creating or possessing fake vaccine documentation.

On Wednesday, Rep. Michael Grieco of Miami Beach filed HB 47, which, if enacted, would impose on forgers and possessors of fake vaccine proof the same penalties levied against people who counterfeit or own fake government-issued IDs.

Starting Oct. 1, 2022, first-time offenders would be charged with a third-degree felony and risk fines of up to $5,000. Repeat offenders and felons could receive prison time.

Punishment, the bill says, would apply to anyone who “counterfeits, forges, clones, or possesses a certificate, card, or other physical or electronic media that falsely indicates that the holder of the certificate, card, or other physical or electronic medium has been vaccinated against a specific disease, with the intent to defraud …”

While the law would apply to all cases of vaccine fraud, including if parents provide fake vaccine paperwork for children entering public school, Grieco told Florida Politics his reason for filing it now is “obviously” because of issues related to COVID-19.

“There’s been rampant abuse of the system,” he said. “We’ve got cruise ships that are requiring proof of vaccination. We have employers that are requiring it. Then we also have businesses and other entities that, if you have valid proof of vaccination, you may not have to have the same COVID testing requirements. You may not have to wear a mask. Even the NFL has different standards for vaccinated versus unvaccinated players.”

 Fake CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Cards are becoming a problem that Michael Grieco wants to address. Image via AP.

Grieco’s bill comes amid mounting worry among college officials nationwide over fake COVID-19 vaccine cards. A cottage industry has arisen to accommodate people who refuse to get vaccinated for personal or religious reasons.

That concern is hardly new. On April 2, just one day before Gov. Ron DeSantis put the kibosh on “vaccine passport” policies for businesses and government entities operating out of Florida — including some cruise ship companies that are now defying the rule — state Attorney General Ashley Moody joined 44 other attorneys general in urging the CEOs of online retailers and social media sites to crack down on the sale of fake vaccine cards.

Making or buying a counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine card is already a federal crime. Passing a state ban, Grieco said, will empower local law enforcement officers to take proper action.

“Your average police officer, even a state agent — they don’t have the power to enforce federal law, and nobody’s going to be calling the FBI if someone gets jammed up with a fake or fraudulent vaccine card while getting on a cruise ship or providing one to their employer, especially if they work for a hospital or some other type of health provider,” he said. “We want to make sure people know that the penalties are real, and it’s something that law enforcement takes very seriously.”

Everyone who can get vaccinated should, Grieco continued, but deciding whether or not to be vaccinated is a personal choice, and governments should not mandate vaccinations for any adult or child who is not in public school.

“But if you choose not to get vaccinated, you do not have the right to lie about it,” he said. “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. I want to make sure we’re all operating with the same set of facts.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


2 comments

  • Alex

    August 25, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    ID fraud that endangers others health and life?

    Can’t be those law and order Republicans can it?

    Lol

  • Jerry

    August 26, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    We aren’t doing vaccine passports in Florida and this is already illegal to do federally to forge documents. So the bill would be useless and redundant.

Comments are closed.


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