ELYRIA, Ohio (WJW)– More of Ohio’s older adults are becoming eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as the state tries to protect this high-risk population. But local health departments are worried about another risk to this group: vaccine scams.
“On Friday, we received a couple of calls from folks said that people were calling them and saying Lorain County Public Health would like their Medicare number or some other personal information and that was clearly not us we would never do that,” said Lorain County Health Commissioner David Covell.
The county vaccinated 1,900 of their residents over 80 on Saturday and have more clinics happening this week.
“If you’re signed up for one of our clinics, no one is going to be calling you and asking you for personal information,” Covell said. That includes health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or social security information. They will also not ask for money.
In addition to posing as health officials, the health department said scammers are pretending to work for their pharmacy partners, as was the case with a report to the Lorain County Office of Aging.
“The consumer had gotten a phone call allegedly from a local pharmacy saying, ‘Hey we need to do some verification for eligibility for the vaccine and since you don’t have access to a computer, we’re going to need to come out to your home to do this,'” Executive Director Lauren Ksiazek said.
Both organizations encourage people to independently verify and double-check
“If you get a call like that just call whoever the agency is they claim they are or try to all that number back and many times it will be disconnected,” Covell said.
They said this behavior is despicable.
“I think it’s very sad that you know people are taking the opportunity to prey on fear,” Ksiazek said.
But they encourage those targeted to not let these efforts deter them.
“If you want the vaccine, then please do get it. There are many trusted individuals out there. Don’t let these few dishonest people keep you from getting what you feel you need to be safe,” Ksiazek said.
If you receive a similar call in the area, the health department encourages you to call the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office to report it.