The state of New York has passed a law that makes it a crime to falsify information on a COVID-19 vaccination card.
New York governor Kathy Hochul signed new legislation on Wednesday that makes falsifying information on a COVID-19 vaccination card a Class D felony comparable under the New York Penal Law to promoting a sexual performance by a child, first degree sexual abuse, second degree assault, and second-degree vehicular manslaughter.
The legislation, dubbed the “Truth in Vaccination” law, has also created a new Class E felony of computer tampering in the third degree “for intentional entering, alteration or destruction of ‘computer material’ regarding COVID-19 vaccine provisions.”
Other crimes recognized as Class E felonies under the New York Penal Law include criminally negligent homicide, weapons possession on school grounds, and third-degree rape.
Sentencing for Class D felonies ranges from no prison time (with probation) to a maximum of seven years in prison. A New Yorker convicted of a Class E felony could receive a maximum prison sentence of four years.
The maximum fine that can be imposed for a Class D or Class E felony in New York is $5,000 or double the amount of money that a defendant gained by committing their crime.
Hochul said that the legislation represented “a major step forward in the State’s efforts to increase vaccination rates.”
“We need to make sure we learn the lessons of the pandemic so we don’t make the same mistakes twice,” Governor Hochul said. “These new laws will help us improve our response to the pandemic now, crack down on fraudulent use of vaccination records, and help us better understand the areas of improvement we need to make to our healthcare system so we can be even more prepared down the road.”
Hochul also signed legislation to give schools more access to New York’s statewide Immunization Database.
Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “This new law will undoubtedly help prosecutors and other law enforcement hold people accountable for the damage they are doing to public health by undermining the efficacy of vaccination requirements in workplaces, businesses, restaurants, and more.”