New York’s Attorney General, Lelita James, issued an alert on Monday warning of scammers posing as health officials offering vaccine access ahead of the projected timeline for general availability. While New York State has rolled out a certain percentage of vaccines, they are currently being reserved for and administered to at-risk frontline health care workers and vulnerable nursing facility patients and staff members.
AG James said vaccines for the general population will become available in several months’ time, and issued a stern warning regarding scam phone calls and emails offering the inoculation fraudulently. She further suggested any tips from the public regarding fraudulent solicitations be directed to her office, saying “we must remain vigilant about potential scams” and ensure information regarding vaccines is obtained through official sources, such as the state web site or that of a health care provider.
The warning offers tips for not giving out any personal identifying information to anyone over the phone or through email messages and suggests checking with health insurance providers for reliable updates. Once available for mass distribution, vaccines will be free of charge due to the “public health emergency,” although in certain instances some may incur an administration fee.
The advisory further states there is no list anyone can pay a fee to get their name on or to participate in one of the vaccine trials. Currently the two federally approved vaccines, one developed by Pfizer-BioNTech for those 16 years or older and one by Moderna for those 18 years or older, are the only two vaccinations which are approved for distribution at present. Those outside of New York should also heed the warning to avoid falling victim to this dangerous scam by not clicking on any hyper-links in email messages or providing information to unconfirmed sources who are working to exploit the public at this vulnerable time during the pandemic.
Ann Sullivan is a contributing staff writer covering national and world news topics. She brings dedicated experience having written international and domestic news, blogs, and web content for over 20 years. She’s also a published poet and graphic designer with degrees in Business and Graphic Communications and has been a music distributor, music industry sponsorship sales director and band manager.