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With more and more universities Require After students were vaccinated against Covid-19, a new challenge emerged: how to make sure they stay the course.

A professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported on Twitter this month that he had talked with students who knew how to obtain fake vaccination cards and knew of peers who submitted them to the institution.Federal authorities Seized Thousands of fake vaccination records in Memphis, and homeopathic doctors in California Facing federal charges Sell ​​them to patients.

In March, the FBI issued a notice stating that it is illegal to make or buy fake vaccine cards. But for college students, many of them may already have fake ID cards to obtain alcohol. Forging vaccination cards may not be an easy task, and some people are worried.

There are no specific reports of false vaccination records on university campuses.

chronicle Asked the 19 state universities that required students to get vaccinated if they found any fake vaccination cards; out of the nine answered, none found fakes.

University spokesperson Joanne Peters Denny (Joanne Peters Denny) said in an email that, as far as UNC is concerned, “there is no evidence that students misrepresent their vaccination status”. chronicle“Based on our weekly random checks, we found that our students honestly reported their vaccinations.”

Nevertheless, many universities still remain vigilant and adopt two methods to verify the vaccination cards of students: check the images of the vaccination cards provided by the students, and then ask them to confirm the authenticity of these images. The certification form, as they say, allows the university to impose consequences in the event that a student’s vaccination card is found to be fraudulent, usually through disciplinary procedures that are commonly used for crimes such as academic dishonesty.

There is no national health record database, which will make verification easier.Some agencies told chronicle They are granted access to state vaccination registries, and they can check student records based on these registries. Others said they were manually reviewing documents.

We want to make sure that we don’t let perfection become the enemy of good.

Lucia Mullen, a senior analyst at the Johns Hopkins University Health and Safety Center, said there are also vaccine verification applications that can perform a rough check on the vaccination card. Such applications can reduce the administrative burden on university officials, but Mullen said she is not aware of any institution using them.

Mullen said that the key criteria to check include whether the name on the card matches the name of the user who uploaded it, and whether the listed vaccination dates are appropriate, but it is still possible to make counterfeit products that pass these two tests. .

The administrator told us that neither manual review nor computer-assisted processes are foolproof, and the certification policy does not prevent all possible wrongdoers chronicleBut Mullen said, “We want to make sure that we don’t let perfection be a good enemy. So we have to start somewhere and understand that there will be some gaps.”

“It may not be enough, but if we only have these,” she said, “we shouldn’t use it.”

‘Difficult to detect’

Mullen said that managing regular screening tests and tracking Covid clusters can provide a fire-by-fire way to verify vaccination information. “If a university has very, very high vaccine coverage on paper, but they seem to be in large-scale outbreaks, then there is clearly a mismatch in some places.” Mullen said despite the breakthrough cases-fully vaccinated people infected with Covid , Especially the Delta variant, which is more communicable-may be the cause of the outbreak, but another possibility may be “a large number of fraudulent vaccine jams”.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is one of the institutions that manually review student vaccination records. Jodi Ito, Chief Information Security Officer of the University of Hawaii System Campus, said that this task is shared by staff from the entire university. Even Ito’s boss, Manoa’s vice president of information technology and chief information officer also participated.

Colleges and universities, as well as their students, faculty and staff, are premised on honesty and mutual respect.

Students upload photos of their vaccine cards to the same online portal they use to complete daily health checks. They also filled out a form to enter the type of vaccine they received, as well as the date and batch number of the injection. The staff compares the two, looking for differences in vaccination dates, batch numbers, etc. “If we look at enough of these cards, we will understand what is a valid card and an invalid card,” Ito said. Nevertheless, she admitted, “If the copy is good, it will be difficult to find.”

Ito said that if the vaccination card image is not blurred and all the information matches, she can verify the records of three to four students every minute. (She recalls how many records she can process in an hour.) But anomalies can slow this down significantly. Sometimes, there is an error attributable to the healthcare provider who vaccinated. “The card itself is not foolproof, because there is human writing on that card,” Ito said. Of course, the vaccination card for international students looks different from that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ito and her employees reserve the right to reject records they think are problematic, even traceable. They may ask the student to bring her card for personal visual inspection, or submit additional verification materials. However, so far, Manoa has not found any fake cards.

At the University of New Mexico, staff are also reviewing vaccination information for each student. Kevin Stevenson, Executive Director of Human Resources Services, said that the Office of the Provost led the work with the help of human resources employees. The training process for these reviewers is relatively simple; Stevenson said the university has created a training document that covers the appearance of the cards and how they usually refer to manufacturers. The university may also ask student employees to help submit a large number of documents.

In addition to vaccination cards, New Mexico also accepts copies of online records from the state’s health department.

New Mexico is the only institution chronicle‘S comments are different on it Vaccination dashboard Between the documents submitted for review and the verified documents. (For example, at the time of publication, the dashboard reflects that 6,368 students at its main campus have been verified as fully vaccinated; the documents of 1,860 students have not been reviewed.) It also records the number of self-reported fully vaccinated people in the spring survey In, but no documents have been submitted yet.

Stevenson said these differences stem from a desire for transparency. “If we were to say that we have X number or Y% of confirmed vaccinations, we want to be able to say, yes, we actually confirm that this is true.”

This task is easier for institutions that can visit the state vaccination registry, such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of Delaware. In Delaware, students who were vaccinated in another state will be contacted for more information. Andrea Boyle Tippett, Director of External Relations, said in an email: “We found that many students actually provided too much information, such as showing that they had confirmed that they were immunized in a pharmacy. document.”

Delaware did not encounter any fake cards, but the director of the student office did contact a student whose mother stated on Facebook that she opposed vaccination and planned to forge her daughter’s vaccination card. The student said that she disagreed with her mother’s views and had scheduled a vaccine appointment.

Officials at the University of California, Berkeley said they can also visit the state registry to confirm student vaccination information, although they do not do this for every student. The campus will check records to help trace contacts or students to see if they are infected, and it may do so if the number of campus or local cases increases.

Integrity management

Experts said that the number of students submitting fake vaccination cards may be small, which means that it will not have a major impact on campus immunity. Michael Huey, who has just served as the interim CEO of the American College Health Association, said that even on campuses where vaccination is mandatory, religious and medical exemptions mean that the vaccination rate will never reach 100%.

Of course, Huey said, there is still an ethical obligation for students who require vaccinations to follow suit. “Colleges and universities, as well as their students and faculty, are premised on honesty and mutual respect,” he said. chronicleHe added that dishonestly meeting the university’s requirements would violate the institution’s code of ethics.

The need to verify vaccination records may also reduce the time campus health officials spend on other pandemic-related activities.

“There are some very important things to do instead of playing a detective with vaccination records,” Huey said. “Our employees need to focus on these things and believe that students will maintain the integrity as we have always expected.”

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