Officials Warn Orange County Residents: Beware of Vaccine Scams

December 17, 2020 Updated: December 17, 2020

Officials in Orange County are warning the public about scams related to the newly arrived COVID-19 vaccines.

The first shots were given to health care workers at local hospitals on Dec. 16, shortly after the first shipment of Pfizer vaccines arrived in the county. Officials have said health care workers and long-term care residents will receive the initial inoculations, with the program expanding as more vaccines become available.

But while the general public waits for details of vaccine availability, county officials are warning that potential scammers might try to take advantage of the situation by trying to coax money out of unsuspecting targets.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Orange County Health Care Agency, and local police departments are all using their social media platforms to keep the public aware of the facts about the rollout of the vaccines.

The Laguna Beach Police Department identified four specific items to help people recognize potential scams while county officials work out vaccination details:

—A person can’t pay to put their name on a list to get a vaccine.

—A person can’t pay to get early access to a vaccine.

—Nobody legitimate will call a person to ask for their social security number, bank account number, or credit card number.

—A person should ignore any vaccine offers that say otherwise, or ask for personal or financial information.

The California government has emphasized that vaccines are free to the public, paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars, and don’t require payment before signing up to get one.

Likewise, since a person can’t pay to get early access to a vaccine, they should avoid anyone who tries to sell them one—because it might be fake. Fake vaccines won’t achieve the intended effect and can be harmful to the body.

Officials also say that real vaccine tracers will need health information, not personal financial information.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is encouraging individuals to report vaccine-related scams by calling the Orange County Scam Hotline at 714-834-3482 or visiting http://www.orangecountyda.org/.

The Orange County Health Care Agency has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force to help guide people through the process. The task force is made up of at-risk community members—including health care workers, essential workers, and older adults—and will address how the vaccines get prioritized for county distribution.

To find out more, please visit: https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com.