Fake COVID-19 vaccine exemptions could be a problem, Ontario officials say

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Fake discounts could be a problem when Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate system goes into effect next Wednesday at restaurants, bars, sports stadiums and other venues, officials say.

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The province will require a written document from a physician or nurse practitioner stating that the carrier is medically fully exempt from vaccination, but such a note can easily be forged and a may be presented upon entering business, senior government employees told reporters during a background briefing on Tuesday. .

When asked whether people opposing the vaccination and certificate system can use their computers to print exemption notes using fake letterhead, an official said, “We all believe that fraud there’s a possibility.”


The briefing was organized by Health Minister Christine Elliott and others ahead of an afternoon news conference.

The exemption note should contain the name and contact information of the doctor or nurse practitioner.

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Officials said should the reasons for the relaxation be “actually valid”, the eligible conditions should be released soon.

“It’s a pretty tight list,” said a medical official.

The vaccine certificate system would require employees of restaurants and other affected businesses to verify that patrons have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days – and this could include vaccines approved by Health Canada, such as Sputnik shot from Russia.

In those cases, people should have three doses of the Health Canada-approved vaccine, or one dose of the vaccine followed by one shot from Pfizer or Moderna.

It is unclear how staff asked to verify vaccination status would be able to determine whether foreign vaccine certificates are valid, especially if they are in a language other than English.

More than 78 percent of eligible Ontarians over the age of 12 have received two shots.

At least 718,000 more first doses and 1.5 million second doses still need to be given so that 90 percent of eligible people reach the goal of fully immunization, officials said. At the current pace, it would take another six weeks.

In the first seven days after Premier Doug Ford announced his vaccine certification system, vaccinations increased by 33 percent.

Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter who covers Ontario politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @RobFerguson1
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