Utah Pharmacist Gave Out Fake COVID Vaccine Cards to Give Patients a 'Choice'

A pharmacist in Utah broke the law when he gave half a dozen patients fake vaccine cards, including one woman who was fed misinformation about the vaccine's side effects.

At the end of June, Bruce Whatcott saw a "reluctant" patient whose job included travel and their employer asked that the patient be vaccinated. When the patient was told by a pharmacy technician the vaccination could cause infertility, Whatcott didn't correct the information, which has not been confirmed as a side effect.

In an off camera interaction in the counsel room, the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) of the Department of Commerce said Whatcott took a vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of the fridge and added the manufacturer's lot number to a COVID vaccine card. He then gave the card to the patient without ever preparing the syringe or administering the vaccine.

When confronted about the illegitimate cards, Whatcott admitted to giving out cards on a "handful" of other occasions. He estimated about five other patients who seemed "apprehensive to get the vaccine" received a card from Whatcott.

An estimated 185 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each received a small paper card indicating their vaccination status and in some places, it's required to attend in-person classes at a college or university or work at a health care facility.

vaccine covid pharmacist utah
A Utah pharmacist admitted to giving vaccination cards to about six patients despite never administering the COVID-19 vaccine. A sign points to a vaccination site set up inside Union Station in an effort to target commuters on June 10 in Los Angeles. Mario Tama/Getty Images

It created an emerging market for fraudulent cards and on Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced a naturopathic doctor in California had been arrested for selling falsified COVID-19 vaccination cards. The first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to coronavirus immunization cards, Juli Mazi, a licensed doctor, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters.

Most cases involving fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine cards have been handled at the state level and Whatcott, who received his license to practice as a pharmacist in 1987, defended his actions. He reportedly told his employer that he was giving his patients, who were reluctant to get vaccinated a "choice."

"By fraudulently filling out and giving the vaccine card, respondent's action misrepresented the patient as vaccinated, and put the patient and others around the patient at risk of contracting COVID-19," the DOPL said in its filing.

Along with endangering the lives of others, Whatcott also broke the law because he used an official seal from the CDC, which could be punishable by up to five years in prison.

Having admitted that the behavior justified disciplinary action, Whatcott agreed to surrender his license and pay a fine of $2,000, according to the filing. He's also not guaranteed to ever be licensed again as a pharmacist.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Juli Mazi is a licensed homeopathic doctor but she is a licensed naturopathic doctor.