Saskatoon

Sask. residents paid others to get fraudulently vaccinated in their name, pharmacist group says

Vaccine fraud has occurred in Saskatchewan, with an unspecified number of people paying others to get vaccinated under their name, using their health cards, according to a professional body representing pharmacists in the province. The province says it will investigate the alleged vaccine fraud.

Province will investigate complaints about people paying others to get vaccinated using their health cards

'Individuals are paying others to get vaccinated under their name, using their health cards,' the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals said in an Oct. 19 memo obtained by CBC News. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Vaccine fraud has occurred in Saskatchewan, with an unspecified number of people paying others to take their place during the vaccination process, according to a professional body representing pharmacists in the province.

The Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals (SCPP) "has confirmed there is vaccine fraud occurring within Saskatchewan," according to an Oct. 19 SCPP note to registered pharmacists obtained by CBC News.

"Individuals are paying others to get vaccinated under their name, using their health cards."

In an emailed statement to CBC News, college registrar Jeana Wendel said the organization did not have statistics but has "confirmed through our health system partners that various forms of vaccine fraud have occurred within the province."

Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman speaks to reporters in the legislative assembly rotunda on Nov. 2, 2021. (Adam Hunter/CBC)

Health Minister Paul Merriman said Tuesday he hoped people weren't resorting to such methods.

"I would be very disappointed if somebody did that," he said.

"The best choice is to be able to get the vaccine in your arm. This is to keep you healthy. Those vaccines are very valuable."

Pharmacists tighten ID procedures

Given "the high stakes involved around COVID-19 vaccinations," Wendel said pharmacists have tightened their ID verification procedures. 

For vaccinations, identification has historically been verified "through standard processes and questions to the patient requesting the service," she said.

But the college is requiring pharmacists to ensure COVID-19 immunization patients 16 and over provide government-issued photo ID to prove their identity. 

CBC has asked when that change was made, as Wendel's statement did not specify that. 

Province may partner with local police

Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, was asked about the SCPP memo during a Tuesday COVID-19 media briefing. 

"We are aware and have been made aware of some instances across the province where individuals are coming forward claiming that they are vaccinating individuals for COVID-19 and these are fraudulent claims," he said. 

"But at this point in time, I can't tell you how prominent the problem is. I'm not aware of specific instances where we're investigating and have found individuals or caught them red-handed doing so."

Marlo Pritchard, president of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, said the province had heard "unconfirmed reports" of vaccine fraud. 

He encouraged anybody, including pharmacy employees, to call the province's dedicated, toll-free phone line at 1-855-559-5502 to report any such incidents or situations. 

"We will investigate them because this is a fraud," he said. "This becomes a criminal offence, so we may partner with the local police service of jurisdiction and carry it on."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa, originally from Cornwall, Ontario.

Story tips? Email me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca or DM me @gqinott on Twitter.

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