STUART, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Martin County is warning residents of fake sites offering appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Martin County health officials said Wednesday they recently learned of the phony Eventbrite sites posing as the Florida Department of Health to offer vaccination appointments.
As a result, all online registration appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine in Martin County have been suspended.
"The city of Stuart police has been notified of this issue and we are working to confirm all legitimate reservations for our vaccination clinics on Thursday and Friday of this week," Carol Ann Vitani, health officer and director of nursing at the Florida Department of Health in Martin County, said in a statement.
Health officials said there are only two vaccination clinics scheduled this week. Anyone who received an appointment for any day other than Thursday or Friday does not have a real appointment.
As well, any site that asks for a person's Social Security or requests a fee is also fake.
Health officials said they're prepared to turn away anyone who may have gotten a phony appointment.
The Martin County Sheriff's Office said it is also looking for answers.
"Unfortunately, one of the links that the Martin County Department of Health was using was cloned and, again, here, unfortunately, residents here in Martin County went to the clone link and were making reservations," Maj. John Budensiek said."We're gonna have people, or we anticipate having people, coming to either the Martin County Department of Health or Stuart Beach to get vaccinations, which are not going to take place. This adds insult to injury. People's nerves are frayed. They've been waiting on this for a long time. They think their chance has finally come."
He describes whoever is behind this as "a very, very sick person, just preying on the frayed society we're in."
"Right now there is no monetary scam," Budensiek said. "We're digging into it. We're trying to see what's in it for the offender on the back side of the internet doing this. Right now it just looks like they are antagonizing people who have been through enough already."
The Department of Health in Martin County said its vaccinations Thursday and Friday are only being offered at its Willoughby Boulevard location in Stuart.