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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Health department says some people are lying in an attempt to get the COVID-19 vaccine sooner

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Posted at 9:55 PM, Mar 18, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — As many Americans still await their COVID-19 vaccines, health experts are finding some people breaking the rules and lying in hopes of getting vaccinated sooner.

Many Michiganders still don't qualify to get their vaccine for another couple of weeks, and both the Barry-Eaton District Health Department and a local nonprofit said they've caught people in lies attempting to jump the line.

"Overall, we have found that most people are incredibly honest and excited about getting vaccinated," said Anne Barna, public information officer for the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.

While many Michiganders still wait patiently for their turn to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, Barry-Eaton District Health Department said not everyone is cooperating.

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"We ask people, and if they say that they have a health condition, we take them at their word. Given that we're vaccinating thousands of people a week, we just don't have time to check medical records, which would be the way to do that," said Barna.

While the health department does check identification, they have noticed some people are still lying about their age in hopes to get it.

They said it's frustrating because they don't want to waste vaccine doses, and so those people are taking up appointments of others who actually qualify and need it.

"We have discovered a couple instances where the people are too young to be vaccinated by us. Sometimes, it's just a confusion. Sometimes it is, you know, they were trying to get in before they're really eligible," said Barna.

A Kalamazoo nonprofit, Mothers of Hope, had a similar experience while rolling out a pilot program to vaccinate communities of color.

The program director said they had hundreds sign up who didn't qualify, and while most understood, some didn't care.

"We then sent them a notification saying, 'This is a pilot program. We're looking at a certain demographic. We apologize, but we have to cancel your appointment.' Then what they did is they went back in and rescheduled but change their race," said Stephanie Williams, the program director for Mothers of Hope.

For the most part, these vaccinations operate on the honor system, but the health department is asking people to think about who they're taking the vaccine away from if they do lie.

"We just ask everyone to be honest with what's going on with their health and their age so that we can get our most vulnerable people vaccinated first and protected first, and then we're really excited to be able to move on on April 5, when everybody is going to be eligible," said Barna.

The health department is asking Michiganders to be patient and wait for their turn when all adults become eligible in the state on April 5.

As for those in underserved communities, Mothers of Hope will be hosting another vaccine clinic on Sunday in the eastside neighborhood of Kalamazoo. Click here for more information.

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