Vaccination rollout impacted by scammers targeting patients

WASINGTON, D.C. — This week, the Federal Drug Administration gave emergency authorization for Johnson and Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine.

To date, the United States has approved three vaccines; Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson’s.

As the vaccine rollout continues, making an appointment is still proving to be challenging, and that issue is opening the door to scammers.

“It said you’ll get the free vaccine. but you must be there at this certain time and you’ll get the vaccine,” said Susan Esquivel, Minneapolis, MN.

Calls like the one Esquivel received are prompting several government agencies to warn about dangerous vaccine scammers, targeting Americans desperate to make an appointment.

Federal regulators are warning that more Americans may hear from scammers calling about vaccines — while pretending to be an insurance company, or a health department — demanding financial and personal information.

The Federal Trade Commission posted advice to avoid vaccine related-scams:

First, do not pay to sign up for the vaccine. Anyone who asks for a payment to put you on a list or reserve a spot in line for you is a scammer.

Second, ignore sales ads. You cannot buy the shots.

Third, look out for unusual or unexpected texts and don’t click on links within text messages. If you think your local pharmacy sent it, call them directly.

Also, do not open emails, attachments or links from those you do not know.

And do not share any personal, financial or health information.

And remember, your social security number, bank account and credit card information are not required to receive a vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine shots are free from approved providers.