Forging a vaccination card or providing fraudulent proof of immunity could soon be a felony in New York based on a measure approved Thursday by the Democratic-led Assembly.
The measure, yet to pass in the state Senate, would tighten forgery laws and penalties in New York. The bill would lead to felony charges for forging immunization records or possessing forged proof of an immunization with the intent to defraud.
The bill was approved as vaccination cards showing proof of a COVID-19 shot cycle could be gateways to returning to normal life, such as attending a sporting event or concert. Fully vaccinated people have also been advised by federal health officials that mask wearing is no longer necessary in most indoor settings, with the exceptions of mass tranist, hospitals and homeless shelters.
State officials in recent weeks have sought to add incentives, like free lottery tickets and a chance to enter a raffle for college tuition money, to encourage more people to get their COVID shots.
“New Yorkers deserve to know that when they attend an event or go to a ballgame where proof of vaccination is required that those around them are not putting people at risk by using forged documents,” Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz said. “This is a public health issue, and after the devastating loss of life that we experienced over the last year, it is critical that we take all reasonable steps to ensure that New Yorkers can safely begin to resume their lives.”
The bill includes COVID-19 vaccinations, but is not limited to those records, lawmakers said.
“It is beyond comprehension that after the horror and death that the pandemic caused across the world – and especially here in New York – that people are willing to endanger their health and those around them by using forged vaccination documents,” Speaker Carl Heastie said. “This legislation would ensure that those that are endangering the public health with forged documents can be held responsible for their actions.”