Watch Out For These COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

Watch Out For These COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

Written by Matthew Taylor
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated February 22, 2021

The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it. The pandemic has closed borders, caused people to lose their jobs, and has forced us to stay away from our friends and family out of fear of getting sick. Over 2.4 million people around the world have died from COVID-19. Many safety measures, such as maintaining a physical distance between people, wearing masks, and regularly using hand sanitizer, are in place around the world to protect the population.

Luckily, vaccines are being developed and rolled out to protect the public. Information about when and how you can get a vaccine is not very clear, which created an opportunity for scammers. 

Check out more Covid-19 related scams.

Types of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccine scams, scammers have gotten quite creative. 

COVID-19 Fake Vaccines

One common COVID-19 scam is advertising fake vaccines. Online or telephone advertisements ask you to make a reservation to get a vaccine. Some request money, while others request personal information. Once the money or personal information is sent, the scammer disappears, and the victim has lost their money and is at risk of having more personal information stolen.

Find out if you’ve been a victim of identity theft.

COVID-19 Home Vaccination Kits

Since most people will have to wait a long time to get a vaccine because they are not in the priority groups to receive one, some people will do what they can to try to skip the line.

A common scam is an offer to receive a COVID-19 home vaccination kit. You will receive an unsolicited call or email from fake private companies or healthcare workers that are trying to sell you fake vaccines. These “vaccines” come with an upfront fee. Once the scammers receive the money, they disappear, taking your money with them.

Learn how to deal with debt collection scammers.

Besides the fact that there is no cost to receive a vaccine, vaccine rollouts are managed through provincial and territorial governments. There is no way to get an authentic vaccine shipped to you, so anyone who says that they are shipping you a vaccine is a scammer. 

Check out how you can get scammed through an e-transfer

COVID-19 Vaccination Emails or Text Messages

You might receive an email or text message about receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. These messages aim to trick you into installing malicious COVID-19 notification apps or malicious attachments. What’s malicious about these apps and attachments is that they try to get you to reveal sensitive personal and financial details to access your accounts, take your money, or steal your identity.

Ways to Detect a COVID-19 Vaccine Scam

There are several ways to detect a COVID-19 vaccine scam.

Many scammers will get you to pay for a “vaccine” upfront. Do not send any money for a COVID-19 vaccine or for access to a list to get vaccinated. Vaccines will be provided by provincial or territorial governments at no cost, and there is no way to skip the line. Everyone must wait their turn for a vaccine.

You shouldn’t receive any information on COVID-19 that you didn’t ask for. Many scams use unsolicited emails, texts, or advertisements that ask you to respond quickly. Don’t give in to the pressure to respond quickly. When it’s your turn to receive a vaccine, you won’t be put under any pressure to receive one or to answer quickly.

There is no way for you to purchase a vaccine or to get one earlier than your provincial or territorial government allows. Anyone claiming that you can do this isn’t telling you the truth.

Some scams ask for sensitive information such as your address or financial details. These are used to take your money or your identity or get access to your online accounts.

Check out Canada’s top scams and how to avoid them.

COVID-19 Vaccine Scam FAQs

Do I have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada?

No, you do not have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. Free vaccines will be made available to anyone living in Canada who wants one.

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

It depends on the province or territory you live in since each jurisdiction has its own vaccination rollout plan. It also depends on vaccine supply and if you are a part of a high-risk group. High-risk groups include:
  • Adults 80 years of age and older
  • Residents and staff of long-term senior care homes 
  • Frontline health care workers
  • Adults in Indigenous communities

How many Canadians have gotten the vaccine?

As of January 30, 2021, 2.29% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine. Many more people will be vaccinated over the coming months, but due to a limited supply of vaccines and delays in vaccine delivery, it will be some time before most of the population is vaccinated.

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

If you want to know more about getting a vaccine, check your provincial or territorial government’s website for more information on local vaccine rollout plans. 

Bottom Line

Scammers are taking advantage of people’s fear of COVID-19 by falsely claiming that they can get a vaccine. Many of these scams request money, while others request personal information. There is no way to purchase a vaccine or receive one ahead of when your provincial or territorial government allows it. All you can do is wait for your turn to be vaccinated. In time, most people will be vaccinated, and the world will return to some level of normal. In the meantime, keep yourself safe from COVID-19 vaccine scams.

Matthew joined the Loans Canada writing team in 2021 while was finishing up a Bachelor's degree at the University of Saskatchewan. It was there that he discovered his love of writing. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Canadian Student Review and NewEngineer.com. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys reading, geocaching, and spending time with his family and pets.

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