As many as 50 Floridians received COVID-19 shots at a vaccination site by pretending to be health care workers, officials said.
Marty Bahamonde, who is a Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman, said the debacle began Saturday when “some individuals” told staff at a vaccination site in Florida City that they were health care workers, CNN reported.
The staffers asked them to provide proof, but “they were unable to validate that they were health care workers,” Bahamonde said.
“So the staff, trusting them and taking their word for it instead of turning them away, they gave them the vaccine,” Bahamonde said.
“Those people then went out and told their friends, ‘Hey, I went in and just said this and got a free vaccine.’ And more and more people started to come in and then the word got out that people were getting vaccine who didn’t meet the governor’s criteria.”
As a result, around 50 people who were ineligible under state criteria received the coveted shot, Bahamonde said.
Word continued to spread on social media about the ill-gotten vaccinations, and on Sunday, the site became inundated with more people hoping to get the shot.
State Sen. Annette Taddeo was among those who incorrectly tweeted the federally-run site would give it out to any adult.
A police officer used a megaphone to warn 200 people waiting in line, “If you do not meet the criteria, you will not be vaccinated today,” the Miami Herald reported.
FEMA has since met with staffers to remind them to check people’s eligibility, CNN reported.
“If they come into the center and don’t have the validation, we ask them to come back. Go home and get the validation and come back, so that we can verify that they are who they say they are,” Bahamonde said.