Forging COVID-19 vaccination documents would be a crime under a bill advanced Tuesday through a divided vote of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.
The bill would specifically add written and electronic records of COVID vaccinations to documents covered by state forgery statutes, meaning faking those records would amount to a class B misdemeanor.
“This bill, just for clarity, doesn’t require that one carry a [vaccination] card,” committee co-chair Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, said. “At a place where a card may be required or as a part of the job… where you would already have the card, you aren’t allowed to falsify it.”
However, throughout a discussion on the bill during a Tuesday afternoon meeting, much of the debate seemed directed at opposition to the idea of vaccine passports, even if they were not directly referenced by the legislation.
“I don’t believe we should have these passports at all,” Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, said. “I’m certainly not advocating for forgery of any written material or any document, but I believe that voting for this bill would condone imposing the limitations that these passports and these documents represent.”
Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, also voiced concerns about the bill, saying the legislation treated records of vaccination against the coronavirus differently than state law treated records of other types of vaccinations.
“I’m definitely on the fence with this,” said Porter, who later voted against the bill. “We’re specifying COVID-19 when we have vaccines for other things outside of COVID that would stipulate the same kind of response.”
Winfield said that other types of medical and vaccination records have been around long enough that lawmakers were confident they would be covered under current forgery laws. The bill was directed at extending the law to the newer COVID vaccination cards which people use as proof of immunization.
“It may be the case that the current law is sufficient, but it’s not necessarily the case,” Winfield said.
Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford, said Connecticut was still in the midst of a pandemic. Daily numbers from Gov. Ned Lamont’s office found the state infection rate at 3.65% Tuesday and 101 patients hospitalized with the virus. Gilchrest said more than 10,500 people in Connecticut had died from COVID.
“This legislation is not forcing anyone to get the vaccine if they so choose,” Gilchrest said. “It’s just saying that you may not falsify documents that you have.”