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FBI warns of penalties for faking vaccine cards, as Washington lifts mask mandates

Carrying a fake vaccine card is a federal crime. The consequences include potential prison time or fines.

SEATTLE — With the U.S. and Washington lifting most mask mandates for those that are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, federal officials are warning that faking a vaccine card to claim immunization can carry serious consequences.

“This is actually a federal crime,” said Amy Alexander, public affairs officer for the FBI in Seattle. “It's called misuse of a government seal. And it comes with potential prison time and or fines.”

That can carry a penalty of up to five years in prison. Reports have emerged in recent weeks of a bar selling fake vaccine cards, and 45 state attorney generals have condemned fake cards.

Alexander warned forging that documents for access to an event or gathering could carry other consequences as well.

“We really want to stress, do not buy these cards, do not sell these cards, do not print them out online,” she said. “Because when you are unvaccinated, and you're using a fake card, you're really putting yourself as the unvaccinated person at risk.”

COVID vaccines are free, and you will be supplied a CDC proof of vaccination card at your appointment. Shots are available through Washington's Vaccine Locator

Now, state officials continue to campaign to vaccinate Washingtonians. At a Thursday press conference announcing mask rollbacks, Gov. Jay Inslee called the shot “a ticket to freedom," and said the state is on track to fully reopen by June 30th.

He urged residents to get vaccinated. Right now, almost 44% of people above the age of 16 are fully vaccinated, and 57% have at least one shot. Inslee said he hopes to speed reopening timelines if 70% of those above 16 are immunized. But officials have voiced concerns in recent weeks that rates of vaccination are dipping.

Inslee added the state does not intend to make people prove vaccination.

“We are not intending to create a state licensing system for vaccinations,” Inslee said. “Businesses will have the discretion in how they handle their operations in that regard."

Similarly, he said private businesses can still require masks indoors beyond the state guidance.