UCSD School of Medicine

Experts Warn of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

A UC San Diego School Of Medicine study shows an increase in fraudulent COVID-19 posts on social media

NBC Universal, Inc.

With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine possibly just days away, experts are warning everyone to beware of vaccine scams that could be dangerous to your health.

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine found that fake COVID-19 claims have come in waves, starting in March with claims of cures and fake testing kits.

Now, they’re seeing a plethora of fake vaccine posts.

“A lot of them are talking about, 'Get your order before it’s too late,' or 'The product is not available,'" explained Tim Mackey, a professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Mackey said online scammers, some from overseas, prey on people desperate to get a dose of the vaccine knowing their turn might not come for months.

"COVID is a scammers bonanza,” said Mackey. “You cannot be a scammer and not be in the COVID scam business. Like, this is your time to shine."

Mackey is the lead author of a study released in August that shows an increase in posts tied to financial scams, possible counterfeit goods and unapproved treatments

Now, he's seeing a wave of fake vaccines.

Most times, according to Mackey, they're just trying to scam you out of your money, but if you do receive a fake vaccine, it could harm more than just your wallet.

“If they do take a vaccine that's not effective, they could obviously have side effects associated with that. There could be sterility issues with a vaccine needle that could infect you with another disease, and also, of course, you're going to engage in behavior that may make you more susceptible to actually getting COVID," Mackey said.

But once the vaccine is released, Mackey warns there's also a need to ensure vials are properly disposed because they could be re-used for fake vaccine doses.

Then there’s the black market danger.

“There’s a lot of pharmaceutical companies that are worried about the security of their product, like people actually just reselling legitimate vaccines or maybe even reselling spoiled vaccines because so much of it is going to be temperature controlled," explained Mackey.

Experts say any vaccine you get should only be through a licensed medical professional, and most health departments will publish a list of approved COVID-19 vaccine providers.

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