Amid rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, officials warn of fake vaccines sold online

Posted at 12:44 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 10:02:00-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Since March, a UC San Diego health care professional said fake products promoted to cure or prevent COVID-19 have surged. Amid the rollout of coronavirus shots, their focus is now to prevent people from buying vaccines advertised as the real thing.

Dr. Timothy Mackey, an associate professor of Anesthesiology and Global Public Health at UC San Diego, said scammers are taking advantage of consumers seeking COVID-19 vaccines because there's a need, but not enough supply.

"We first saw herbal and nutritional supplements because people were trying to avoid the disease, then a bunch of testing kits we saw when people didn't have access to testing kits,” said Mackey.

And now, he said people browsing the web will see advertisements promoting fake COVID-19 vaccines.

"You cannot get any vaccine on the internet. If you're seeing a post that says you can buy it right away, it's not the real vaccine,” said Mackey.

He said falling into a trap could cause serious harm to yourself and others.

"Middle ground you get sterilized water, and it doesn't work. Then, you go out and risk transmission to others,” Mackey said.

Secondly, he said you'd get ripped off and risk having your credit card information and identity stolen. And third, "You get a product that's spoiled or a needle not sterile, and you get another disease or something that's toxic for your body."

Mackey said the bottom line is the vaccine will not be available online anytime soon.

"The vaccine will only be available in registered healthcare facilities and only a few that are specifically validated to distribute the vaccine. It'll be a slow roll out,” said Mackey.

If you're looking for official information regarding vaccine distributions, he said your best bet is visiting government sites that end with ".gov".

"The internet seems like a quick fix but it's not for vaccines. Vaccines are highly regulated and controlled. Please wait and they will come but don't make the mistake of buying online."