Homeless and vulnerable in BC and Alberta are paid to take COVID 19 vaccines for others

Homeless and vulnerable people in British Columbia and Alberta have been approached with offers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 from those fraudulently trying to obtain a vaccine card.

Vancouver Coastal Health said Thursday that those approached have been asked to get vaccinated while falsely using that person’s name and information.

“This behavior is deplorable and we are disappointed that someone would take advantage of vulnerable people in this way in an attempt to bypass the process of receiving a BC vaccine card,” the health authority said in a statement.

“Future cases of fraud may be forwarded to local law enforcement for follow-up.”

In Alberta, Linda Pires-Relvas, a nurse at an Edmonton community center, said a client told her in December that she had been approached by a stranger to take the vaccine.

Pires-Relvas works at Boyle Street Community Services, a charity that works with the homeless in Edmonton.

“The client herself said that someone approached her to get vaccinated with that person’s health card in exchange for a $100 fee,” she said.

Other friends of hers had also been approached and given multiple doses of the vaccine for different people, Pires-Relvas said.

Outreach volunteers provide assistance to homeless people on a -20C night in Calgary, Alta., Dec. 14, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Pires-Relvas said she was concerned about potential side effects for these people when taking more than the recommended doses. She said it also speaks to the indifference towards those who are already struggling in the community.

“They don’t want to get the vaccine for whatever reason, but they don’t consider the health and potential harm of the vulnerable people,” she said.

Edmonton Police investigating

Edmonton Police confirmed they are investigating this allegation, which was reported early this year.

Alberta Health Services said in a statement that while serious side effects are rare with COVID-19 vaccines, the risk does increase if doses are given within a short period of time.

People receiving their vaccines must present one form of identification, which includes an Alberta health care number, driver’s license, Social Security number, birth certificate, or passport.

If someone does not have a government issued ID, other methods can be used.

Fraudulent vaccine data will be deleted, health authority says

In December, BC health officials had said COVID-19 vaccination records entered into the provincial registry and suspected of being fraudulent will be reported to police.

The BC RCMP said they have no reports of homeless people being approached by strangers and offering cash to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Vancouver Police Department did not immediately answer a call for comment.

Vancouver Coastal Health said it has “successfully taken steps to thwart attempts by people to get the vulnerable to get the vaccine for them”. It did not address those measures.

“Fraudal vaccination records will be removed from the provincial immunization registry and BC vaccine cards will be revoked,” it said.

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