Sask. people paid others to be fraudulently vaccinated in their name, the pharmaceutical group says

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

Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals (SCPP) “has confirmed that vaccine fraud is occurring in Saskatchewan,” according to an Oct. 19 SCPP memo to registered pharmacists obtained by CBC News.

“Individuals pay others to be vaccinated under their name by using their health card.”

In an email 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 taken place in the province.”

Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman speaks to reporters at the Legislative Assembly’s rotunda on November 2, 2021. (Adam Hunter / CBC)

Health Minister Paul Merriman said Tuesday that he hoped people did not resort to such methods.

“I would be very disappointed if anyone did,” 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 requires pharmacists to secure COVID-19 vaccination patients 16 years of age and older show government-issued photo IDs to prove their identities.

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

The province can cooperate with the local police

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

“We are aware of and have been made aware of some cases throughout the province where individuals are coming forward and claiming to be vaccinating individuals for COVID-19 and these are fraudulent allegations,” he said.

“But at the moment, I can not tell you how prominent the problem is. I am not aware of specific cases where we are investigating and have found individuals or taken them on fresh deed in doing so.”

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

He urged anyone, including pharmacy staff, to call the province’s dedicated, toll-free line at 1-855-559-5502 to report such incidents or situations.

“We will investigate them because this is fraud,” he said. “This is going to be a criminal offense so we can cooperate with the local police service in the jurisdiction and continue it.”

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