the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, as more employers, universities, and venues in the US and Europe implement vaccine mandates, officials are warning of a rise in fake SARS-CoV-2 vaccination certificates. According to investigators and cybersecurity experts, the past few weeks have seen a number of ways to purchase counterfeit vaccine cards on social media, messaging apps, and the dark web. While the European Union has a digital vaccine passport system that assigns a unique QR code to each individual, the US relies on paper cards distributed by the US CDC, which are easy to forge and were never intended to be used as proof of vaccination. Some US states are working to implement digital verification systems, but other states have outlawed the use of such systems or implemented punishments for businesses and other entities that ask for proof of vaccination.
The ease with which US vaccination cards can be forged is alarming both faculty and students at universities and colleges heading back to in-person learning this fall. According to an estimate from the Chronicle of Higher Education, at least 675 colleges and universities now require proof of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Many university administrators face challenges in identifying fake vaccination cards digitally uploaded to students’ online portals. The proliferation of counterfeit vaccination cards prompted the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General to issue a statement earlier this year warning the public that buying, creating, or selling fabricated cards is a federal offense. For people in the US with a valid vaccination certificate, there are several options to store the oddly sized CDC card digitally on a smartphone.