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Lying About Vaccination Status: Is It Legal, Ethical, Or Wise?

PLUS: Feds Could Be Fired, Imprisoned for Lying About Vaccination Status

Crossing state lines. Pretending to forget ID. Some people are going to intense lengths – even lying about their vaccine status – to dodge a web of Covid rules

BOSTON GLOBE – Rebecca Hart Holder, who has two young children, received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but has now been trying to receive a booster COVID shot to further protect her family against the Delta variant.

The middle-aged couple had already decided they were going to lie. If the pharmacist asked if they had already gotten a COVID vaccine, they would say no.

They were at their vacation place, in Massachusetts, and how would a staffer know what they’d done in their home state.

They had never before made a big medical decision without a doctor’s input.

But panicked after a study suggested that the vaccine they had received, made by Johnson & Johnson, wasn’t very effective against the Delta variant, they drove to the pharmacy, breezily attested that they were not already fully vaccinated, and rolled up their sleeves.

“Who’s looking out for us? My doctor hasn’t called me. And the CDC keeps changing what we’re supposed to do.”

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“I feel like we have to fend for ourselves,” said the wife, who asked not to be named. “Who’s looking out for us? My doctor hasn’t called me. And the CDC keeps changing what we’re supposed to do.”

Vaccine providers in Massachusetts are not permitted to provide boosters, since they are not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

But on Friday afternoon, news broke that the FDA is hastening efforts to approve extra shots for people with weakened immune systems, a move that seems likely to fuel desire among the general population, since it will be seen as legitimizing their efficacy. 

With the Delta variant surging, and breakthrough cases in Massachusetts nearing 8,000, people are already deciding they do not have time to wait. Some are crossing state lines in hopes of evading detection. Others are darting into pharmacies where they’ve heard no questions will be asked or falsely declaring that they have not already gotten a jab.

People who got J&J may be particularly eager to get an extra shot (even though a new study, out of South Africa, shows it is effective against Delta), but as cases mount, and COVID closes in again, many who got Moderna or Pfizer are also interested READ MORE. 

“Lying about a birth date or past vaccination history introduces potential medical problems and billing hassles.”

Feds Could Be Fired, Imprisoned for Lying About Vaccination Status

Unions may have to bargain over vaccination policy implementation after the fact.

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By ERIC KATZ and ERICH WAGNER, AUGUST 6, 2021

GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE – Federal employees who misrepresent their COVID-19 vaccination status to their agencies face firings and potential criminal prosecution, the Biden administration warned on Friday.

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force—a group President Biden created by executive order that is led by the White House, General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget—confirmed in new guidance agencies would not initially ask for proof of vaccination, but they could follow up for documentation if they receive “a good faith allegation that strongly suggests” an employee lied on their attestation form.

“Federal employees who make a false statement on the Certification of Vaccination form could be subject to an adverse personnel action, up to and including removal from their position.” 

Those “certification of vaccination” forms will soon go out via email to all federal employees, with an Office of Management and Budget official saying that process will begin next week.

While agencies will initially rely on the honor system as it begins asking employees for their vaccination status, the administration made clear there could be consequences for lying.

“Federal employees who make a false statement on the Certification of Vaccination form could be subject to an adverse personnel action, up to and including removal from their position,” the task force said.

It added it “is also a federal crime” to provide false information on the form, pointing to federal statute that prohibits lying to the federal government.

Employees who misrepresent their vaccination status could also lose their access to classified information, the administration said. On their certification forms, employees will be further met with the message, “I understand that a knowing and willful false statement on this form can be punished by fine or imprisonment or both.”

Most federal employees are not yet facing a requirement to be vaccinated. Those who do not attest they are vaccinated, or who decline to answer, will be subject to weekly tests, mask requirements READ MORE. 

Coronavirus FAQ: Is It Ethical To Lie To Get A Booster Or A Shot For An Under-12 Kid?

SHEILA MULROONEY ELDRED, August 6, 2021

GOATS AND SODA – Is it OK to lie to get a vaccine?

Say, if you want a third shot as a booster because you think it could enhance your protection. Or a shot for an 11-year-old who’s … almost 12?

Or if you’re a teenager who wants a shot but your parent is opposed?

We posed these questions to experts in medical ethics and infectious disease, and their answers were clear for that unauthorized booster or an underage candidate: Don’t do it.

It turns out there are plenty of ethical, medical and practical reasons not to lie.

First, the practical: The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not OK’d additional shots, and lying about a birth date or past vaccination history introduces potential medical problems and billing hassles not only for you but for the medical system, says Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution in Garrison, New York.

At a minimum, getting an unauthorized shot means you may have to figure out how to deal with it in your personal medical records at some point. Berlinger says:

“Getting vaccinated is part of your medical history — you would have to reveal it going forward in the interest of your own health.” 

It’s also unclear who is paying for these unauthorized shots: As STAT has reported, insurance companies have a billing code set for booster shots, but it won’t work until the shots are authorized.

And it also puts pharmacies and hospitals in the position of playing the truth police: While many have developed policies about boosters, few have the resources to check the accuracy of every single patient’s record.

Most consent forms ask if you’ve been vaccinated before. If you say no, you may get away with the lie in the moment, but your insurance company may deny the claim … READ MORE. 

Governor Kay Ivey’s Op-Ed: “Use the good common-sense God gave you”

The Trump administration gave us the best weapons against covid-19. We should use them.

By Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, July 29, 2021

Washington, D.C., is so hyper-politically polarized these days, it’s no wonder Americans have tuned out the earnest pleas of the nation’s top doctors, their elected leaders, superstar athletes and other celebrities who have been urging, for months, those who are unvaccinated to take the shot.

Here is the truth: Closing businesses will not defeat covid-19. Wearing masks will not defeat covid-19. And keeping our students from in-classroom learning will not defeat covid-19.

The good news is we have something that has proved helpful — safe and effective vaccines, which were developed in record time, and we can thank former president Donald Trump and all of those involved in Operation Warp Speed for making this medical miracle happen.

“The unvaccinated folks are being lied to, and that is just plum sad.”

This time last year, people were praying that a vaccine would come to market in time to help slow the surge of deaths and people getting sick. With a lot of hard work, our prayers were answered. In fact, President Trump, who got the shot in January, later called it a “true miracle.”

In Alabama, my advice has been simple and consistent. If you can take the shot, roll up your sleeve and get one.

There are those who believe that government should mandate the vaccine or that we should bribe people to take it. That’s not going to happen in my state, no matter how many times the media ask me.

But there are also those who remain hesitant and skeptical of the vaccine, because there is so much misinformation out there. I believe those who are pushing fake news and conspiracy theories about this vaccine are reckless and causing great harm to people.

The unvaccinated folks are being lied to, and that is just plum sad. It is no secret that I expressed some frustration when talking to reporters last week, but the data does not lie, and I simply do not want to see Alabamians, or anyone else for that matter, suffer. This vaccine works, and we need to start acting like it. This is not political: It’s just common sense.

Are there risks involved in taking it? Sure. But there is a risk every time we get in a car that we might be killed in a wreck. The benefits of getting where we need to go far outweigh those risks.

Let me be crystal clear: The covid-19 vaccine is our best weapon against this disease, and I encourage everyone to take it.

Even more importantly, talk with a doctor or pharmacist you know and trust. That’s what I did, and I received the vaccine as soon as I was eligible. It is free, readily available, and the jab doesn’t hurt a bit.

The hard, cold facts show the vaccine is saving lives. This virus is deadly serious, and in the United States, the pandemic is unfortunately becoming one of the unvaccinated. The data show that in Alabama and most other states almost 100 percent of our hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.

A famous, albeit fictional son of Alabama, Forrest Gump, said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” That was true in 1994 when Forrest said it, and it’s true today.

We have a weapon today to battle covid-19 that we didn’t have a year ago. It’s up to you to use the good common-sense God gave you to do what is best for you and your loved ones.

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