Google Searches For Fake Vaccine Cards Spike After CDC Changed Recommendations

There's been a sizable increase in people searching phrases like “fake covid card,” “fake vaccine card” and “fake covid vaccine card” in the last week.

Google Trends data indicates that searches for “fake vaccine card” spiked after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased some restrictions for fully vaccinated people.

Last week, the CDC changed its guidelines to say that those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely stop wearing masks most places indoors, such as bars and restaurants, and outdoors. While the new guidance asks that people ― regardless of vaccination status ― wear masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, there’s no way for businesses or others to determine who is fully vaccinated and who isn’t.

In theory, relying on the honor system should work, but Google Trends data for the past 90 days suggests that it may not.

Google Trends data for "fake vaccine card."
Google Trends data for "fake vaccine card."

While individuals in the United States who have been vaccinated have CDC cards detailing the dates they received their shots, there are now plenty of people who have not been vaccinated who seem to be champing at the bit to get their hands on falsified cards.

“Fake covid card,” “fake vaccine card” and “fake covid vaccine card” all spiked on Google Trends following the May 13 announcement by the CDC. Forbes notes that searches specifically for “fake covid card” and “fake covid vaccine card” grew “by 950% and 1,150% compared to the previous 90 day time period.”

In April, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) wrote a letter to companies like Twitter, eBay and Shopify to ask that they work on preventing people from selling fake vaccine cards on their respective platforms.

“The false and deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards threaten the health of our communities, slow progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and are a violation of the laws of many states,” reads the letter signed by 47 attorneys general.

The letter asks that the companies monitor their platforms, take down ads or links to fake cards, and save information about those who are selling the fraudulent cards.

Despite these efforts to prevent the circulation of fake cards, card sellers continue to pop up all over the country. Earlier this week, a CVS employee on Long Island, New York, was arrested when he was found with 62 fake vaccine cards. The man reportedly told police that he had taken the cards from his employer and “had sold some cards to students and was intending to share the remainder with family and friends.”

Of the new CDC guidance for those who are vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says that there’s a “very, very low likelihood” that fully vaccinated people will transmit the virus, whether they’re wearing a mask or not.

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