A nurse in South Carolina has been accused of creating fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and lying to authorities when approached about these allegations.
As The State newspaper reported, Tammy McDonald, a registered nurse and director of nursing at a rehabilitation center, was indicted by a federal jury on Nov. 23, per court documents that were made public on Thursday. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
McDonald's attorney, Jim Griffin, on Thursday claimed that his client, who he described as a "very qualified and competent registered nurse,” had created just one or two fake vaccination cards. He added that McDonald had used the cards to help a family member who has "anti-vaccination beliefs," and that the family member did not pay McDonald, who herself is vaccinated, for the cards.
It is unclear if McDonald used a real vaccination card and filled it out with false information or if she made one from scratch.
According to the indictment, she lied about the cards when confronted by agents for the FBI and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, The State reported.
McDonald is believed to be the first person in South Carolina to face federal criminal charges for the creation of false coronavirus vaccination cards.
If convicted, McDonald faces up to 15 years in prison, though the newspaper noted that she will likely receive a lighter sentence because she does not have a criminal record.
According to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 tracker, about 53 percent of South Carolina's population is currently fully vaccinated.
Reports of fake or fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards have sprung up across the country since the U.S. vaccination rollout began.
In Michigan, two individuals, including one nurse, were charged with selling real COVID-19 vaccination cards that were taken from a Veterans Affairs hospital.
An Illinois woman was arrested after she attempted to enter Hawaii without going through a 10-day quarantine by using a vaccination card that stated she had been immunized with the "Maderna" vaccine.
Authorities have repeatedly warned that using or selling fraudulent vaccination cards that misrepresent the official seal of a U.S. agency, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, could result in thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison.