The U.S. Department of Justice is cautioning the public to be extremely skeptical of unsolicited offers to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

Federal, state and local agencies have received complaints about scammers capitalizing on demand for the vaccine to access individuals’ personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, and money, using various schemes.

Among the tactics the scammers use are advertisements that promise early access to COVID-19 vaccines in exchange for a deposit or fee as well as offers to be put on a vaccine waiting list, again in exchange for money.

“These scammers are ruthless and relentless, and everyone needs to have their guard up,” said U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank. “People… particularly the elderly, are desperate to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, and the con artists are exploiting that desperation to get access to their money and personal information.”

The FBI recommends checking the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) website for accurate information on vaccine availability at https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/vaccine.html. AVaccine Hotline available by calling 1-855-566-5333 is experiencing difficulties and there are no more appointments available at county health departments. The call center will take your contact information and add it to a waiting list. Callers will be contacted as soon as more appointments are available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website also has up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccine availability at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html.

The demand for vaccine continues to greatly exceed supply as Alabama has more than 326,000 healthcare workers and nearly 350,000 people who now qualify for a vaccine due to advanced age. Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announced Friday starting February 8, ADPH will extend eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to include people 65 or older, and additional groups of frontline workers. The Vaccine Allocation Plan is available at www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19vaccine/assets/adph-covid19-vaccination-allocation-plan.pdf.

Frontline critical workers listed in the plan are as follows:

• First responders

• Corrections officers

• Food and agriculture workers

• U.S. Postal Service workers

• Manufacturing workers

• Grocery store workers

• Public transit workers

• People who work in the education sector (teachers, support staff, community college and higher education)

• Childcare workers

• Judiciary (including but not limited to) circuit judges, district judges and district attorneys

The additional priority groups will add over 1 million people that are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Alabama. While just under 2 million people will qualify to receive the vaccine, the state continues to only receive around 100,000 doses each week.

As a courtesy to others, healthier people age 65 and older and workers who fall in these groups are encouraged to consider delaying their vaccination so that more vulnerable people can access vaccine ahead of them.

To schedule an appointment for the free COVID-19 vaccination at a county health department, individuals may call the ADPH COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Hotline at 1-855-566-5333. For general information about COVID-19, the COVID-19 Information Hotline number is 1-800-270-7268. The vaccine providers can be found within the Alabama COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Dashboard at arcg.is/OrCey.

For more information on COVID-19 scams, visit fbi.gov/coronavirus. If you are the victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721, or online at justice.gov/DisasterComplaintForm.

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