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Fake Vaccine Cards Are In Hot Demand On Social Media, Dark Web


The Wall Street Journal reports on surging sales of counterfeit covid vaccine cards online in the U.S. and in Europe. Also, celebrity vaccine endorsements, covid boosters, menstrual changes from covid shots and more.

The Wall Street Journal:
Fake Covid Vaccination Cards Are On The Rise In The U.S., Europe 

As Covid-19 vaccine mandates proliferate in the U.S. and Europe, so are swindlers selling bogus vaccination certificates. … The spread of such rules has created a market for counterfeit certificates for the unvaccinated. In recent weeks, schemes to sell illegal proof of vaccination have multiplied on social-media sites, messaging apps such as Telegram and on the dark web, according to government investigators and cybersecurity experts. … “While we do not have definitive numbers, we are seeing more of these types of schemes recently,” a Justice Department spokesman said. (Sylvers, 8/7)

In other updates on the vaccine rollout —

USA Today:
Vaccinated, Angry: Experts Say Insults Won’t Motivate The Unvaccinated

Public health experts told USA TODAY that anger is understandable, widespread and unproductive. They worry that shaming and blaming the unvaccinated could backfire – entrenching their decision rather than persuading them to get the shots. The only way to end the death and suffering of COVID-19 is to get millions of Americans vaccinated. Mandates may help, but insults, anger and dismissiveness are widely considered a terrible way to convince people to get vaccinated. “If you’re going to call me an idiot … that isn’t encouragement,” Stephanie McClure, an assistant professor of biocultural medical anthropology at the University of Alabama, told USA TODAY. “You usually don’t get anywhere by attacking people.” (Shannon, 6/8)

The Washington Post:
Jennifer Aniston And Other Celebrities Endorse Vaccines. Experts Say Their Pleas May Not Help.

Jennifer Aniston is best known for her role in “Friends,” but these days the actress is avoiding some members of her inner circle who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus. Last week, her InStyle interview made headlines after she told the magazine that people have a “moral and professional obligation to inform” others about their vaccination status. … Star-studded photo ops and high-profile vaccine endorsements have become a major part of public health messaging in the pandemic era. Politicians, celebrities, athletes and religious leaders have encouraged others to get vaccinated and follow scientific guidance with varying results — from helpful to ineffective to harmful, with one researcher saying friends and neighbors are the most fruitful agents for change. (Paul, 8/8)

The Washington Post:
Latino Vaccination Rates Are High In One Maryland County. A Cartoon Grandmother Helped.

Devora Guerrero, a coronavirus outreach volunteer in Montgomery County, saw five family members, including her grandmother, get the virus last year. She herself tested positive in December — and despite it all, Guerrero was afraid to get the vaccine. The 23-year-old’s friends had nearly convinced her that the vaccine was not safe — but then she met Abuelina. This animated character commissioned by Montgomery County’s Latino Health Initiative (LHI), Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar, a community partner focused on reaching the Latino population, reminded Guerrero of her own abuela — a short, hard-working and wise Chilean 74-year-old grandmother. (Lai, 8/8)

The Washington Post:
Marjorie Taylor Greene Fans Cheered Low Vaccination Rate In Alabama, Which Tossed 65,000 Doses

As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surged in Alabama, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) mentioned the state’s lowest-in-the-nation vaccination rate at a political fundraiser, eliciting cheers from the audience in a video posted this week. Days after the video surfaced, the state’s health leader said officials have tossed out more than 65,000 coronavirus vaccines that expired, citing low demand that experts have partly attributed to the politicization of the vaccine. Alabama has the lowest vaccination rate in the country, followed closely by Mississippi, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. (Kornfield and Wang, 8/7)

KHN:
‘The Vaccination Queen’: Nurse Practitioner Takes Covid Shots House To House In Puerto Rico

Abigail Matos-Pagán entered a bright-blue house in Mayagüez earlier this summer and was met by Beatriz Gastón, who quietly led the way to her mother’s small room. Matos-Pagán had come to provide a covid-19 vaccine for Wildelma Gastón, 88, whose arthritis and other health concerns confine her to bed. Wildelma Gastón asked for her rosary to be placed on her chest and motioned to her “good arm,” where Matos-Pagán injected a first dose of the Moderna vaccine. The Gastón household, made up of five family members, breathed a collective sigh of relief. Though the vaccine had been available for months, Wildelma had been unable to reach a vaccination site. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker, Puerto Rico’s vaccination rate in March was one of the lowest among U.S. states and territories despite receiving more than 1.3 million vaccine doses. The rollout highlighted disparities in access to medical services, and the challenges of tracking and reaching remote citizens, such as Wildelma. (Almy and Carter, 8/9)

In other vaccine news —

Stat:
A WHO Expert On Why The Rush For Covid-19 Boosters May Be Premature

When the World Health Organization last week called for a moratorium on giving Covid-19 booster shots, except in rare circumstances, it said it was concerned wealthy countries would start giving their populations a third dose before the people at highest risk from the disease — health workers and older adults — in many countries get their first. But Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s director of immunization, vaccination, and biologics, recently insisted on an additional reason: Providing booster shots without strong evidence that the shots are needed is ill-advised. “If we’re not really grounded in that clarity, we’re going to be in a place where we have forever uncertainty about what actually should be done,” she cautioned. (Branswell, 8/9)

NPR:
Can COVID Vaccines Cause Temporary Menstrual Changes? Research Aims To Find Out

Sore arms. Headaches. Low-grade fevers. These are some of the expected side-effects of a COVID-19 vaccine — a sign that the body’s mounting an immune response and learning how to fend off the novel coronavirus. But thousands of people in the U.S. think they may have had other side-effects that drugmakers and doctors never warned them about: unexpected changes in their menstrual cycles. Though many researchers and gynecologists say a causal link hasn’t yet been established between the vaccines and the reported changes, that hasn’t stopped the worry among some people. And so far, scientists haven’t collected much data on whether or how the vaccines might affect a menstrual period. (Brumfiel, 8/9)

KHN:
Journalists Assess The Latest Covid Surge And The Nation’s Vaccination Effort

KHN freelancer Mark Kreidler discussed why professional athletes are not taking a more affirmative role in pushing covid vaccines on Newsy on Tuesday. … KHN Midwest correspondent Cara Anthony discussed masking mandates, vaccine efficacy and breakthrough covid cases on Illinois Public Media’s “The 21st Show” on Monday. (8/7)


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.



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