ALBANY — Today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) and State Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) into law, S.4516C/A.7536B, that would explicitly make the falsification of COVID-19 vaccination records a crime. The new law takes effect at a critical moment in the State's battle against coronavirus, as the world deals with a sharp rise in new COVID cases due to the omicron variant, adding new urgency to the effort to ensure every eligible New Yorker is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a release announcing the signing of this legislation and other measures, Governor Kathy Hochul said "We need to make sure we learn the lessons of the pandemic, so we don't make the same mistakes twice. These new laws will help us improve our response to the pandemic now, crack down on fraudulent use of vaccination records, and help us better understand the areas of improvement we need to make to our health care system so we can be even more prepared down the road."
Senator Anna M. Kaplan said "With the omicron variant putting our community at greater risk and threatening the progress we've made recovering from the pandemic, countless employers, schools, small businesses, and communities are relying on genuine proof of vaccination status as a tool to keep their spaces safe from COVID transmission. It's never been more urgent that we protect this process from fraud so that the health and safety of the public isn't compromised by bad actors using fraudulent vaccination cards or passports. The 'Truth in Vaccination' law will serve as a strong deterrent to prevent people from lying about their vaccination status, protecting public health, and ensuring our economic recovery can move forward. I'm grateful for Governor Hochul's leadership in combating this crisis, and I'm thankful for my partnership with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz to get this critical law passed through the legislature."
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “Vaccine requirements work. The data is clear. However, when we have a preponderance of fake vaccine records, that lulls New Yorkers into a false sense of public health safety and undermines the protections that vaccine requirements provide to everyone. This law will help ensure that New Yorkers are as safe as they can be from this virus while going to work or patronizing a business, and I thank Governor Hochul for making the right choice to sign it. Thank you as well to my legislative partner on this effort, State Senator Anna Kaplan, who has been a strong fighter for this sensible policy on vaccination.”
In the months since government and private industry began instituting COVID-19 vaccination mandates, there has been extensive reporting on how fake vaccine card sales have skyrocketed, with numerous high profile examples of professional athletes, high-ranking NYPD officers, FDNY & Sanitation workers, and medical facility staff attempting to circumvent public health and safety regulations through use of counterfeit cards and fake digital passports. Anti-vaxx web forums have also spread tips for how to create fake cards.
As these crimes have proliferated across the country, federal authorities have scrambled to address the growing crisis.
In New York, The District Attorneys Association Of The State Of New York (DAASNY) has issued a letter of support for the "Truth In Vaccination" law, with J. Anthony Jordan, DAASNY President, and Washington County District Attorney, saying "this legislation sends a powerful message that New York State will not tolerate fraudulent vaccination cards, whether on paper or electronically. This legislation will add to the tools that prosecutors already rely on to investigate and prosecute these crimes."
- Explicitly make it a crime to create a fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination card by amending the legal definition of a "written instrument" to explicitly include a card provided to a person by a vaccine provider indicating the date a person received vaccination against COVID-19 as well as the type of vaccine and its lot number.
- Explicitly make it a crime to create a fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccination Passport by amending the penal law to create a crime of intentionally altering computer material to indicate that a person received a vaccination against COVID-19
The new law takes effect immediately.