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Floridians should be on ‘high alert’ for COVID-19 vaccine scams | Here are some tips

It's important to know what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to the coronavirus vaccines that still haven't been approved in the United States.
It's important to know what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to the coronavirus vaccines that still haven't been approved in the United States. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The promise of a COVID-19 vaccine has people understandably excited.

But experts remind that the high anticipation can also make you vulnerable to scams.

For that reason, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a consumer alert on Tuesday warning state residents about vaccine-related scams. It comes after Interpol posted a global warning about that threat as well.

“I am extremely encouraged by news of multiple coronavirus vaccines potentially moving toward FDA approval. Once we have an effective immunization, the swift and orderly distribution of the vaccine will be key to getting our state and country back on track,” Moody said in a news release. “But Floridians must remain on high alert. Scammers may try to exploit the sense of urgency surrounding the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to swindle those trying to protect their health. I am asking all Floridians to be on the lookout for vaccine-related scams and report fraud to our office.”

The warnings come as the United Kingdom launched its vaccine program Tuesday. No vaccine has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Moody released the following tips to help Florida residents avoid vaccine-related scams:

  • Know that no COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the FDA as of the time of this consumer alert; therefore, any attempt to sell a vaccine right now is not legitimate.
  • Do not respond to solicitations about vaccines. Once a vaccine is approved and available to the public, availability will be announced by federal and state government agencies, with clear priority tiers and distribution guidelines.
  • Never send money or financial information to anyone offering a COVID-19 vaccine or claiming the ability to expedite the process. Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be provided at no cost; however, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee. Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
  • Report suspicious solicitations or COVID-19 vaccine-related advertisements to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also posted some frequently asked questions to help you discern fact from fiction as the approval for vaccines nears in the United States.

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About the Author:

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.