By Alison Wood, Contributing Writer
In our article “COVID-19 Vaccines: What Older Adults Need to Know,” we answered many of the questions older adults might have about the COVID-19 vaccine, including its benefits and potential side effects, access to the vaccine, and the process for receiving it. In the article, it’s mentioned that for those age 65 and older, Medicare covers the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As such, no one should charging adults in this age group money to be vaccinated. However, there will always be scammers and fraudsters who are looking to take advantage of vulnerable people, such as the elderly. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception, and alerts are already being raised about vaccination scams.
In December 2020, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services issued the first fraud alert in relation to COVID vaccinations, and they continue to provide up-to-date advice on how you can protect yourself from scams. (To access this information and learn more, just CLICK HERE.)
Scammers often target older adults, so if you are a caregiver for an older loved one, you’ll want to review the following information. It will help you and the senior in your care know what to watch out for and stay on guard, to avoid becoming a victim of these vaccination scams.
Steps to take to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19 scams
- There is no cost for receiving doses of the vaccine that have been purchased with U.S taxpayer dollars. If providers charge an administration fee, that can be and should be reimbursed by insurance companies, both private and public. Plus, if you are an uninsured individual, there is still a way to receive reimbursement. As the CDC.gov website has stated, “No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay the vaccine administration fee.” Therefore, do not give any cash or personal, medical, or financial information to people who want to charge you for access to the vaccine.
- Fraudsters are currently drawing people into scams through a wide variety of means: phone calls, text messages, and posts on social media, to name a few. Fraudsters are even knocking on people’s doors in some areas. Never respond to any of these communications, and don’t give out any personal, medical or financial information, as this could be used for medical or identity theft.
- If you see any advertisements for COVID-19 vaccination cards, these are scams. Genuine vaccination cards can only be provided by those legitimately administering vaccines.
- Never share your own COVID-19 vaccination card on social media, in forums, or anywhere else online, as the information they contain can be used for identity theft.
- There is no way to hasten your eligibility to receive the vaccine, so refuse anyone who asks you for money in exchange for an expedited vaccination.
- Many scams involve email, as people are likely to open a message if it relates to COVID-19 vaccination. Scammers are using feelings of urgency and anxiety being felt by older adults to encourage people to click on suspicious links. Never click on any link in an email or text message from an unknown individual. Scammers will often try to impersonate official sites, so be wary of this. Always contact the organization directly to check if the communication is real and sent by them. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Legitimate COVID-19 contact tracers will never ask for any payment to book a COVID-19 test for you. So if anyone contacts you asking for money for this reason, know that it’s a scam.
- Some scammers are claiming to offer information on U.S. Department of Health & Human Services grants related to COVID-19. Never give any personal or financial information to anyone making these claims.
- As you can see by the various types of COVID-19 scams currently circulating, it’s important to be extra vigilant. If you do suspect that you have seen or been the target of COVID-19 health care fraud, you should immediately report it directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can find more information on how to report COVID-19 vaccination fraud and scams by CLICKING HERE.
Information courtesy of the U.S Department of Health & Human Services and https://oig.hhs.gov/