Google Searches For Fake Vaccine Cards Spike After CDC Updates

by Kristine Cannon
Nathan Howard/Getty

Ever since the CDC eased restrictions for fully vaccinated people, searches for “fake vaccine card” have spiked

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, for fully vaccinated people and fully vaccinated people only, they have the option to not wear a face mask outdoors and in most places indoors, like restaurants and bars. And since, searches for “fake vaccine card” have spiked, according to Google Trends data.

The CDC’s updated guidance, which is based on an honor system, not only led to much confusion — and backlash — among Americans, including everyone from parents to nurses, but now, it’s also seemingly leading to some shady behavior among others. According to Google Trends’ data, searches for “fake vaccine card” spike on May 14 — the day after the CDC made its announcement. And while the new guidance asks that people — regardless of vaccination status — wear masks in indoor settings such as buses, planes, and hospitals, businesses are unable to determine who is and isn’t fully vaccinated.

In addition to “fake vaccine card,” searches for “fake covid card” and “fake covid vaccine card” also spiked around the time of the CDC’s announcement. According to Forbes, searches for “fake covid card” and “fake covid vaccine card” grew by 950 percent and 1,150 percent, respectively, compared to the previous 90 day time period.

Plus, searches for “buy covid vaccine card” saw a spike on May 2 — and another couple smaller spikes the days following the announcement — with more significant interest in states such as Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, and Florida.

Three days ago, Business Insider reported that a 21-year-old Long Island CVS employee, Zachary Honig, was arrested after police found 62 fake COVID-19 vaccination cards in his car. According to reports, he admitted to selling some cards (it’s a federal crime to produce or buy fake COVID-19 vaccination cards). He also said he planned to share the rest with family and friends.

“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,” the National Association of Attorneys General writes in a letter signed by nearly 50 attorneys general.

Since the CDC’s announcement last week, several businesses have eased their mask policies. Stores such as Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Costco all announced that fully vaccinated shoppers can choose to wear a mask in their stores. While other stores, like Target, Whole Foods, and Walgreens, continue to require shoppers wear masks. None require proof of vaccination, which would be the vaccination card giving to Americans who received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It did not explicitly say that unvaccinated people should abandon their masks,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said of the updated guidance. Instead, he said, vaccinated people “can feel safe… outdoors or indoors.”