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[COMMENTARY] We’ve Entered The Era Of The Vaccine “Big Lie”

Four years ago Donald Trump foisted upon the American public the “big lie” about the Russia collusion investigation. It was nothing more than “fake news,” the twice-impeached, one-term former president proclaimed. Last year’s “big lie” was that millions of people, a dead Venezuelan dictator, voting machine manufacturers and Brad Raffensperger all successfully coordinated a successful effort to steal the election from Trump. That, of course, never happened.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Today, here in 2021, the newest “big lie” is, “yeah, I’ve been vaccinated” against COVID-19. With a simple key word search it’s possible to find specific instructions on how to create forged COVID-19 vaccination cards. The vast majority of those search results will take you to QAnon and pro-Trump web sites and anti-vaccination forums.

The situation developed after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent states templates for them to create their own vaccination cards. Problem is at least two states, Wyoming and Missouri, put high-resolution PDF versions of those cards on their state health department websites. People downloaded them. The CDC has since delivered guidance to states to pull the templates from their sites, citing “misuse” by the anti-vaccine community and in March the FBI issued a public warning that creating or buying a fake vaccine card is illegal.

Even though both states have pulled down those templates the fake vaccine card horse is long ago out of the barn and way too far down the road to be caught. Pretty much everything on the internet is forever, including the card templates. Plus, the cards are marked by hand, don’t contain all that much information, are printed on easily obtainable heavy white paper and are impossible to quickly verify. Together, those factors have created a prime opportunity for the anti-vaccine community to beat the system by sharing directions on how to forge them.

“It’s a cardboard paper card,” said Alyssa Miller, a cybersecurity expert who specializes in protecting large organizations. “There’s absolutely nothing about it that would prevent you from reproducing it.” She added, “How are you going to make someone at the opposite end, the ones who are supposed to be verifying these, to look at one and determine if it’s legitimate or if it’s fake?”

Since President Joe Biden and many states have declared that the federal government will not be creating a national database of the vaccinated those handwritten cards, filled out and delivered with each jab in the arm, currently are the only way to determine if someone’s been vaccinated. Increasingly, many companies, including airlines, and colleges and universities are going to require their returning employees and students to provide images of their cards as a condition of returning to the workplace or campus.

Exactly how they’re going to verify that the cards are legitimate is an issue that they’re all struggling to sort out. I have a suggestion. If you make the personal decision not to get a coronavirus vaccine – for whatever reason – just be honest about it. Don’t fabricate a piece of cardboard that falsely proclaims you as immune to contracting or spreading COVID-19. Don’t be part of spreading this year’s “big lie.” That will allow the rest of us to make the personal decision about whether we will want to be around you.



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