Three Vermont state troopers accused of being involved in a fake Covid-19 vaccination card scheme have resigned amid a federal investigation, the authorities said.
The troopers, Shawn Sommers, Raymond Witkowski and David Pfindel, were suspected of having “varying roles” in the production of fraudulent coronavirus vaccine cards, the Vermont State Police said in a news release on Tuesday.
Mr. Sommers and Mr. Witkowski resigned on Aug. 10, a day after another trooper raised concerns with supervisors about their conduct, the police said. Mr. Pfindel resigned on Sept. 3 after an investigation by the state’s Department of Public Safety.
The Vermont Troopers’ Association, an organization that represents troopers, detectives and sergeants of the Vermont State Police, did not immediately respond for comment on Wednesday morning.
“The accusations in this case involve an extraordinary level of misconduct — a criminal violation of the law — and I could not be more upset and disappointed,” Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, the director of the Vermont State Police, said in a news release.
In August, Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont announced that some state employees who work with vulnerable populations would be required to get vaccinated against Covid-19. About 77 percent of people ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to a Times database.
As businesses and states reopen amid rising cases of the virus, many have required vaccination cards as proof that someone has been inoculated against Covid-19. Instead of getting vaccinated, some people have turned to faking that proof. In March, the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General and the F.B.I. issued a public service announcement to warn the public that selling fake vaccination cards with a government logo on them is a crime.
In July, a homeopathic doctor in California became the first person to face federal charges for selling fake Covid-19 vaccination cards. And in May, the owner of a bar in California was arrested on charges that he had sold fake Covid-19 vaccination cards.
Vaccination centers in Greece investigated
The authorities in Greece are investigating 10 vaccination centers across the country on suspicion of issuing fake vaccination certificates for Covid after dozens of forged documents were linked to health centers and hospitals.
There is a high rate of vaccine hesitancy in Greece, even as experts warn of infection rates rising following the return to the cities after summer holidays on the islands.
At one health center in the small town of Palamas in central Greece, 44 fake certificates were issued in August alone and have been traced to an administrative employee who is being sought by the authorities. Five employees of a hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, were suspended after using fake certificates to dodge vaccination which is obligatory for health workers. And a doctor in Messolongi in western Greece, is under scrutiny after using a sample from a patient with Covid to issue an antibody certificate to a colleague, according to local news media reports.
Ιt is thought that the real number of fake certificates is much higher, and Greece’s national transparency authority is seeking to determine whether they are the work of nationwide forgery rackets similar to rings under investigation in France and elsewhere.
The Greek government passed a law this week imposing a 5,000-euro ($5,900) fine for each instance of fraud. The same fine applies to individuals caught using fake certificates to go to work or gain entrance to cafes or leisure venues only serving the vaccinated.
“We won’t allow anyone to defraud the system and put public health at risk,” Greece’s health minister Thanos Plevris said on Monday.
About 54 percent of the population of 10 million has been fully vaccinated, compared with an average of 69.4 percent in the 27-nation European Union. More than 6,000 Greek health workers have been suspended without pay in the past week after refusing to get the jab in contravention of a new law obliging them to get the vaccine.
— Niki Kitsantonis
Source : https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/09/08/world/covid-delta-variant-vaccine769