The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers about scams related to the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, which could see distribution authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – after applications are reviewed by the third or fourth week of December 2020.

According to FTC, consumers should know the following to avoid vaccine-related scams:

  • Consumers will likely not need to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine during the public health emergency;
  • Consumers cannot pay to put their names on a list to get the vaccine or pay to get early access to the vaccine;
  • No one from vaccine distribution sites or healthcare payers, like private insurance, will call and ask consumers for their Social Security number, credit card number, or banking information to get the vaccine;
  • Beware of providers offering other products, treatments, or medicines to prevent the virus and consumers should check with their healthcare provider before paying for or receiving any additional COVID-19-related treatment.

“If you get a call, text, email — or even someone knocking on your door — claiming they can get you early access to the vaccine, STOP. That’s a scam. Don’t pay for a promise of vaccine access or share personal information,” FTC said in a posting. “Instead, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or file a complaint with your state or territory attorney general through consumerresources.org, the consumer website of the National Association of Attorneys General.”

Vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna could be right around the corner as the two companies have submitted applications for Emergency Use Authorization to the FDA. Once one or both vaccines are authorized by FDA, the vaccines will be distributed to Federal- and state-approved locations. It has already been recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—an independent group of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—to provide the first available doses of the vaccine to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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