A 24-year-old woman from Illinois was arrested on Sunday while trying to enter Hawaii with a fake covid-19 vaccination record card. How did authorities know it was fake? For starters, the counterfeit card said the woman had received the “Maderna” vaccine rather than the Moderna vaccine.
The woman, identified as Chloe Mrozak, was arrested at the Daniel K. Inouy International Airport on the island of Oahu, according to local TV station KITV. Mrozak faces a maximum sentence of a year in prison and is reportedly being held on $US2,000 ($2,736) bail.
All visitors to Hawaii must self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, but that requirement is waived for people who’ve been fully vaccinated. By bringing a fake vaccine card, Mrozak was allegedly hoping to bypass mandatory quarantine and endanger the health of Hawaii’s 1.4 million people in the process.
While Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine program has kept cases relatively low since the covid-19 pandemic began, the state has seen a troubling rise in new infections over the past month. The state reported 553 new cases on Tuesday alone, a serious uptick over June when cases in Hawaii hovered at roughly 30 per day.
Governor David Ige has asked tourists to delay any vacations they might have in Hawaii until November in an effort to get those daily case numbers down — a startling request from a state so dependent on tourism.
“I have asked that all non-essential travel for residents and visitors to Hawaii be delayed or curtailed through the end of October,” Ige told the Star Advertiser last week.
“I’ve been on calls with all the airlines and I’ve talked with the hotel industry to support this requirement. I think it’s important that we reduce the number of visitors coming here to the islands,” Ige continued.
Hawaii has 63.26% of its residents vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University, the seventh best rate in the country. And that’s far higher than the national covid-19 vaccination rate, which sits at a stubbornly low 55.9%.
Authorities have recently cracked down on people selling and using fake vaccination cards, with prosecutors in Manhattan announcing on Tuesday that 31-year-old Jasmine Clifford was charged with selling 250 fake vaccine cards over Instagram. Clifford, whose handle is @AntiVaxMomma on the social media service, is expected to be charged with two felonies over the scheme, according to the New York Times.
The moral of the story? Don’t mess around with fake vaccine cards. These aren’t like trying out a fake ID in college at the local bar. You can face felony charges and prison time for making or using fake covid-19 vaccine certificates because being vaccinated is a serious matter of public health. You’re endangering dozens, if not hundreds and thousands of people, when you run around with counterfeit vaccine cards. We’re in a global pandemic and at least 100,000 more Americans are expected to die from the disease between now and December, according to the latest modelling.
Just get vaccinated and stop messing around with fake cards. The vaccine is free and it’s literally the least you can do for yourself and those you love.