Vaccine Identity Theft


Courtesy of CBS 46

COVID-19 vaccination record cards display the recipient’s full name and date of birth, which allows people to steal this information when pictures of the card are posted online.

Tiana Salisbury, Photojournalist

With the COVID-19 vaccine becoming increasingly available, many people who have finally received it are posting pictures of themselves with their vaccination record cards on social media. These people have waited patiently for a vaccine throughout the pandemic and can finally boast about getting it to their friends and family. While receiving the vaccine is something to be excited about, posting about it can ultimately lead to identity theft.


When receiving both the first and second doses of the vaccine, recipients are given a vaccination record card. The card lists their full name, date of birth, and patient number. When people post a picture of their vaccination record cards, anyone who views the post has access to this information, and it is surprising how many people are willing to steal the information. Madison Liao (10) says that “it is really concerning how ignorantly people give out their personal information online. People should be aware that what they post can be seen by everyone including scammers.”


Using the posts of vaccination cards, scammers can exploit the vaccine recipient in many ways. One thing they can do is make a copy of the card and sell it to others. Since the COVID-19 vaccine is not available to everyone yet, some people are willing to illegally purchase counterfeit record cards. After purchasing these fake cards, people can use them to enter places where the vaccine is required without actually receiving it. According to Infosecurity Magazine, this is currently happening through online websites such as Shopify, where fake cards are sold for as low as $20.


Another thing scammers can use people’s information for is to hack their personal accounts. The cards clearly display the vaccine recipient’s name and birthday, which are commonly used to log into accounts. The Federal Trade Commission also states that scammers can use the birthdate on vaccination record cards to guess the digits of the recipient’s Social Security number. With help from other resources, scammers can fraudulently open others’ Social Security accounts and cause problems that could have easily been avoided.


To avoid more identity theft, people are being advised to stop posting pictures of their vaccination record cards. Instead, public health officials are recommending that people post pictures of their adhesive bandages, vaccination stickers, or buttons. By doing this, people can avoid identity theft while promoting confidence in the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created stickers that read “I got my COVID-19 vaccine!,” similar to the “I Voted” stickers given out on Election Day. These stickers will hopefully encourage more people to get vaccinated, which will in turn create a safer community.