Florida Women Impersonate the Elderly to get the COVID-19 Vaccine


Image Courtesy of Nature.com

Grace Mittleman, Staff Writer

According to federal data collected by the CDC, since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 63 million doses have been administered, reaching 13.1% of the total U.S. population. The U.S. is currently administering over 1.8 million shots a day to those who are eligible in their state. However, some have gone the drastic lengths to impersonate somebody else to get a coveted COVID-19 vaccine.

Two women in Central Florida, under the age of 45, dressed as elderly women so they could get their second dosage of the vaccine. They wore bonnets, gloves, and glasses to disguise themselves as older than 65, the age cutoff to be prioritized to get the coronavirus vaccine in Florida.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies at the site (in Central Florida) reprimanded the women for lying about their age and who they were, saying their actions were “selfish,” and they should wait their turn, according to footage provided by the sheriff’s office Friday.

“You’ve stolen a vaccine from someone that needs it more than you,” one deputy said to the women. “And now you’re not going to get your second one. So that’s a whole waste of time we just wasted on this.” When deputies warned the women that they would be arrested if they returned and said they were lucky to be allowed to leave, the women responded that they understood and apologized.

The women may have succeeded in getting their first dose. Both had the CDC card indicating they had received their first doses. Raul Pino; director of the health department in Orange County; said he didn’t how they could have been previously vaccinated, but on Wednesday, workers at the site at the Orange County Convention Center caught on.  Once the staff noticed the discrepancy with their birthdays listed on their driver’s licenses, the two women were referred to the deputies, who issued trespass warnings against them, the sheriff’s office said.  Since this incident, security has been heightened at the site where it happened.

Sadly, the actions of these women are more common. Last month, authorities identified a wealthy Canadian couple who had posed as locals in a remote Indigenous community to take vaccine doses meant for elders. Meanwhile, an Indiana health department put out a warning earlier this month against what it called “a substantial lack of morality” after people had lied to vaccination site workers about their addresses, jobs, and ages.

Orange County has vaccinated more than 200,000 people, Raul Pino said, adding that the county is increasing its capacity to keep up with desire in the community. “It’s great to see that demand,” he said. “We haven’t had any lack of willing arms to get vaccinated. … We have people faking to be old to get vaccinated.” “As we are engaged in this process trying to move quickly, some people could squeeze in [and lie], so it’s probably higher than we suspect,” Pino said.