City and health officials urge caution against vaccination scams

As COVID-19 vaccinations continue throughout the Commonwealth and across the country, city and health officials are urging the public to be cautious in light of a growing number of vaccination scams targeting users through multiple platforms.

“In the cybersecurity community, we’re seeing an uptick in scams related to the vaccine. The attack vectors are email, text messaging, and phone calls,” said Mike Steben, the city’s Chief Information Officer. “The newest ones are online ads for vitamins that are alleging to ward off COVID-19. We just want people to very cautious.”

Dr. Alan Kulberg, chair of the city’s Board of Health, says established processes are in place for those eligible for each phase of the vaccine roll-out. “Everyone who is eligible, per Phase for the vaccine, will have a vetted and legitimate channel for which they can sign up. Please note that there isn’t a ‘list’ or place for anyone to sign up who is not eligible for Phase 1 or Phase 2, which is expected to begin Feb. 1,” said Kulberg. “Anyone who is eligible in Phase 1 and is not part of an agency should send an email to vaccineteam@bhs1.org.”

Here are some additional tips provided by AARP to guard against these types of scams:

  • Avoid online offers for coronavirus cures or faster access to vaccines. They aren't legitimate.
  • Be wary of emails, calls and social media posts advertising “free” or government-ordered COVID-19 tests. Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.
  • Don't click on links or download files from unexpected emails, even if the email address looks like a company or person you recognize. The same applies for text messages and unfamiliar websites.
  • Don’t share personal information such as Social Security, Medicare and credit card numbers in response to an unsolicited call, text or email.
  • Be skeptical of fundraising calls or emails for COVID-19 victims or virus research, especially if they pressure you to act fast and request payment by prepaid debit cards or gift cards.
  • Ignore phone calls or emails from strangers urging you to invest in a hot new stock from a company working on coronavirus-related products or services.

For more information, please visit:

  • https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2020/coronavirus.html
  • https://oig.hhs.gov/coronavirus/vaccine-scams2020.pdf