‘You’ve stolen a vaccine:’ Video shows women who posed as seniors at Florida COVID-19 vaccination site

Orange County doctors say women were trying to get second dose

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Body camera video released Friday shows deputies scolding two women who tried to pose as seniors so they could get the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Orange County Convention Center site.

Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said two women came to the site Wednesday “dressed up as grannies” so they could receive their second shot. Right now, Florida is only vaccinating those 65 and older, as well as health care workers.

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The body camera video released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t appear to show the 44-year-old woman and the 34-year-old woman in disguises as Pino described. Both are wearing glasses, as Pino said, and one had a gray beanie on her head.

The sheriff’s office wouldn’t comment on whether they were wearing disguises at any point.

“You know what you have done? You’ve stolen a vaccine from someone that needs it more than you and now you’re not going to get your second one,” a deputy told the pair. “So that’s a whole waste of time we just wasted here on this. So, we’re at that point right here but just for your selfishness of stealing a vaccine.”

Ultimately, they were given a trespass warning but no arrests were made and they are not facing charges.

“OK, this is a trespass warning. You are hereby warned that you are not licensed or incited to be on these premises, and may be arrested if you refuse to leave or return at any time in the future at this building or the other buildings, the parking garage everything, anything on the whole property here. It’s ridiculous that you’re even here right now,” a deputy said.

One of the deputies told the duo they were lucky they weren’t getting arrested.

“We really appreciate it,” one of the women said, thanking the deputies.

Pino said the women would have gotten the shots but vaccinators noticed they “looked funny” and then realized there were some issues with their IDs. Deputies said their vaccination cards had their real names on them but their birth dates didn’t match the ones on their driver’s licenses.

“We haven’t had any lack of willing arms to get vaccinated. We also have people faking to be old to be vaccinated. So yesterday we realized a couple of young ladies came dressed up as grannies to get vaccinated for the second time, so I don’t know how they escaped the first time but they came (to get) vaccinated. The bonnets, the gloves, the glasses -- the whole thing and they probably were in their 20s,” Pino said Thursday.

Now, Pino said officials will need to determine whether they actually received their first dose and how that may have happened.

“So part of the findings that we have to do is, were they really vaccinated by us, when (they were) vaccinated, what happened, what date, what time, to try to figure out if there are any holes, loopholes, in the process that are allowing people to do that,” Pino said.

He said it’s possible the women may have known someone at the site who allowed them access.

Security has recently been increased at the convention center site due to an uptick in odd incidents, including nurses being approached as they leave their shifts at 10 p.m. by strangers wanting to know if they have any extra doses.

While the so-called granny incident may be making headlines, Pino said it’s not the first time someone has tried to fake their way into getting vaccinated.

“So there have been a few. They’re all different and creative. There was another individual that had the same name of his father, came with a card but different birthday. But, you know, we have access to a lot of information. So we can quickly verify who is who, where they were born, you know, anything that you can imagine, we have access to,” Pino said.

Given the pace of operations at the convention center, he knows it’s possible others have slipped through the cracks.

“I think it’s higher than we suspect, to be honest with you. As we are engaged in this process and trying to move people quickly, some people could squeeze in, so it’s probably higher than we suspect,” Pino said.

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