LA County warns residents of potential COVID-19 vaccine scams

WITH the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Los Angeles County, officials are warning residents to be aware of individuals offering to administer the vaccine in exchange for money.

“If someone offers to sell you a chance to get vaccinated before it is your turn, it’s a scam,” the LA County Public Health Department said in a release.

In the past few months into the pandemic, scammers have used robocalls, social media posts and emails to take advantage of the fear, anxiety and confusion around the coronavirus by offering cures and remedies or false testing kits.

Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is being offered to frontline health care workers and those who live in long-term care facilities.

Essential workers who cannot work from home and are at high risk of contracting the virus, as well as older adults with medical conditions, are being eyed for the next rounds of distribution.

“As more vaccine[s] [are] available, it will be offered to everyone. This will likely take months. Vaccine may not be offered to the general public until Spring/Summer 2021,” the health department said.

The department added that the vaccine will be administered at no cost and regardless of immigration status and whether they have health insurance.

What the public should look out for is if someone offers to move you into an earlier group to get the vaccine for a fee; if they try to sell you a place on a COVID vaccine waiting list as there is no such list; or if someone on the street, online, social media or by door tries to sell a shot of the vaccine.

“If someone says they can get you a special, low cost deal, or get you the vaccine under the table, it’s a scam,” the department added.

Other tips shared include: being vigilant if the individuals asks for personal or financial information; seeing ads for fake vaccines or “miracle cures” using vitamins or other dietary supplements; and if anyone that “isn’t well known in your community (like a doctor, a health care clinic, a pharmacy, a County health program) offers you a vaccine – think twice and check with your doctor.”

To report a possible COVID-19 scam, LA County residents can contact the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at dcba.lacounty.gov or (800) 593-8222, or can report suspicious claims about vaccines, testing or treatment products to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. (AJPress)

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