UNC warns students, staff against using fake vaccination records
Within days of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announcement that students must show proof of COVID-19 vaccine or submit to regular testing this semester, fake vaccine cards were circulating on campus, students told WRAL News.Posted — Updated
Now the university is reminding those who would choose to buy a fake vaccine card to circumvent those rules that they risk "disciplinary action." In a message to students shared with WRAL News, the university acknowledges the fakes and warns:
"Audits of attestations will occur on a regular basis. Ultimately, students, faculty and staff who are non-compliant or are found to have falsified documents may be subject to disciplinary action."
UNC students must attest to their vaccination status by uploading a copy of their card and answering questions about the date and manufacturer of the vaccine they got. Those who do not are required to get a COVID-19 test once a week. Effective Sept. 15, faculty and staff will be held to those same requirements.
Simon Palmore, a UNC junior, told WRAL News that 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.
“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.
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."
Students nervous about more COVID outbreaks on campus
With the start of the fall semester right around the corner, some fear the fake vaccine cards are just the beginning of yet another rocky year.
As students gear up for another pandemic college experience, one student says he's cautiously optimistic.
"It's very unfortunate that students would choose to pay money to not become vaccinated – instead of just choosing to take the free vaccine," said Webb.
"At the end of the day that’s what we’ve been dealt," said Webb. "I hope students become responsible as we move into this new year."
Move-in day for students is this Friday. Currently, all students and staff who do not confirm their vaccination status will undergo weekly testing.
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