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College students buying fake vaccine cards to circumvent shot, testing requirements

Posted August 3, 2021 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated August 4, 2021 9:20 a.m. EDT

— College students are willing to pay a lot of money to get their hands on vaccination cards. The cards, of course, are free as proof that a person has had the COVID-19 vaccine. But students are using the fakes to provide that proof and circumvent campus requirements that they either get the shot or submit to regular testing.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, students must provide a copy of the card before their return to campus or be tested every week. Duke University requires students to present proof of vaccination with no testing alternative.

Less than a week after students were notified of the new rules, a UNC professor sounded the alarm on Twitter about students who knew how to buy fake COVID-19 vaccine cards and knew of others who submitted one to the university.

“It is really disturbing the lengths that some students are willing to go to subvert the university requirements and really subvert their duty to their fellow students to keep everyone safe,” said Simon Palmore.

Palmore is a junior at UNC. He said he has heard of many of his fellow classmates deciding to buy vaccine cards to send to the university.

“There’s a reason that the university is requiring all unvaccinated students to undergo regular testing, and these students are going to be able to subvert the regular testing while also not being protected from the virus and prevent the spread from others,” said Palmore.

“To me, the type of people who would fake a vaccine card are the type of people who might go to parties and get COVID, and that’s the group I think should be tested weekly,” said J.D. Boyd, a dental student at UNC.

Students describe it as easy as getting a fake ID. Online vendors have made blank cards more accessible to anyone.

“I’m in the health care world," Boyd said, "That’s just absolutely horrible. We’re on an educated college campus in one of the most educated places in the world and how can you be faking a vaccine card when you have people to care about?"

WRAL News took the issue to officials at the Orange County Health Department who call the fakes and the fakers extremely dangerous.

“If anybody is out there trying to get around the testing requirements, that’s really something that should be dealt with severely by any university we believe,” said Todd McGee with the Orange County Health Department.

With the surge of the Delta variant and the fall semester just two weeks away, some hope UNC will crack down a littler harder.

“I think if there was a vaccine requirement, the university will be forced to look more closely at these vaccination cards and verify that they are in fact legitimate,” said Palmore.

In response to WRAL's questions, UNC sent this statement from Jonathan Sauls, senior associate vice chancellor of student success and administration:

“Throughout the pandemic, our students have demonstrated their commitment to limiting the spread of COVID-19 by participating in regular testing, and now by getting vaccinated.

“We trust our students to do the right thing, but for anyone who may be considering falsifying information about their vaccination status, we have a simple message: don’t.

"Providing false information about vaccination status is a violation of University Honor Code and our COVID-19 Community Standards. Violations may result in disciplinary action up to suspension from the university."

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