During a press conference at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center on Thursday, Jan. 7, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said that there have been reports of scammers trying to sell fake COVID-19 vaccines.
The Federal Trade Commission has created a web page dedicated to the reporting of suspected COVID-19 fraud at www.reportfraud.ftc.gov. Aronberg said people should also report a suspected scam to local law enforcement.
“Vaccines are free, and the only thing you’re allowed to charge is a $15 administrative fee,” Aronberg said. “If anyone tries to charge any more than that, they are violating the law, and you should report them to a local law enforcement agency.”
He stressed that there are many people using scams and trying to take advantage of the situation.
“As long as there is a buck to be made, there will be people to try to take advantage of that,” he said.
People should make sure vaccines are coming from a reputable source, which would be a government source, Aronberg said.
“Don’t rely on some advertisement you see, or some Facebook ad,” he said. “Make sure it’s from a reliable source.”
Aronberg said there is a process in place for distributing the vaccine, although it has not been as fast as people would like.
“I know that the federal government has promised millions more doses that they have not delivered yet to the states, so they are behind on the federal end, and I hope that the state will have a better distribution process than they have now, but I can tell you that county officials are doing what they can with their resources,” he said.
Aronberg added that there have been no cases of COVID-19 scams reported locally.
“But that does not mean that they don’t exist,” he said. “We have heard that there are some fraudsters out there… so be vigilant.”
Vaccinations have begun in Palm Beach County, pursuant to the governor’s executive order, for long-term care facility staff, persons 65 years of age and older, and healthcare personnel with direct patient contact.
At this time, appointments through the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County should only be requested by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appointment seekers should include their name, phone number and date of birth. All e-mails are being received and will be contacted in order with further instructions as appointment slots and options become available. Vaccination appointments are based on dosage availability.
According to Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County Director Dr. Alina Alonso, responses may be as long as several weeks or a month based on availability of the vaccine.
No vaccines will be given without an appointment, and the public is asked not to show up at any of the Florida Department of Health locations for a vaccine or to request an appointment. This should be done by e-mail only at this time.
Additional updates on local vaccine distribution will be communicated through http://palmbeach.floridahealth.gov and local media.
Vaccination candidates should ask their primary care provider any questions they have about the vaccine before they receive it.