UNC System schools on the lookout for fake COVID-19 vaccination cards

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Nearly 250,000 students, plus tens of thousands of staff members, are now required to inform whichever UNC campus they’re affiliated with whether they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. If they haven’t received the shot, they face weekly testing.

UNC-Wilmington is already cross-referencing vaccine cards with the state database to make sure they’re not fake.

“We take a percentage of the vaccine records we get and just verify that they’re in there. It’s sort of a double-check,” said Dr. Katrin Wesner-Harts, UNCW Director of the Student Health Center.

Wesner-Harts said any university campus that provides vaccines has access to what’s called the CVMS Provider Portal. That is where vaccine information is stored by the state.

“When we do a vaccine on campus, we enter that record in there so it’s part of the statewide system so only vaccine providers have access,” she said.

What has not been straightened out yet is how to verify the vaccine status of students who are from out-of-state. They can account for 18 or 25 percent of a campus’ population, depending on the university.

UNC-Chapel Hill, which has already had issues with fake vaccine cards, did not explain how it performs student vaccine card audits. An email response said, “We are utilizing a variety of tactics to conduct weekly random audits of students who have attested to being vaccinated. To protect our process, we’ll decline to comment further.”

In an email, East Carolina University said, “Students are asked to upload their vaccination cards to the student health portal. At this time, we have not had an experience with falsified documents. If a student were to attempt to use a fake vaccination card, they would be in violation of ECU’s Honor Code and subject to university disciplinary action.”

An email response from North Carolina State University said, “We examine the uploaded card to make sure it conforms to CDC standards and includes all the relevant information. If something looks incorrect, we verify with DHHS if the card is from North Carolina. If something looks incorrect on an out-of-state card, the upload is not accepted.”

UNC-Charlotte’s email response said, “Students and employees must complete a form and attach documentation of their vaccine, which is submitted through an online portal. The documentation is then reviewed by a team of trained staff members. The University only accepts a limited set of documentation as valid proof of vaccination and requires certain information be present on the documentation to match it against the person submitting the form. Any student found to submit fraudulent documents would be held accountable under the Code of Student Responsibility, and any employee found to submit fraudulent documents would be subject to disciplinary action.”

Wesner-Harts said so far UNCW has found no fake vaccine cards, but she is aware of the issue.

“The fact that you would spend time to try to get a fake vaccine card and get around something that’s to protect your own health and safety and the health and safety of those around you is unconscionable to me.”

Campus leaders want as normal a fall as possible, even with the delta variant.

“If we took all that energy and time of people trying to get around the rules, imagine what we could use that positive energy for and we could accomplish,” Wesner-Harts said.

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