Multiple social agencies in Edmonton are issuing warnings to their clients after reports that vulnerable people are being exploited for vaccine passports.
Edmonton police confirmed it is investigating the reports at the request of Alberta Health Services.
The claims are that vulnerable Edmontonians are being paid to get the COVID-19 vaccine under other names so that unvaccinated people can obtain a QR code.
Alberta Health Services confirmed photo identification is not required to get a vaccination in Alberta. While some might be asked for photo identification and a health care number, providing both is not mandatory.
In most cases, only a health care card is required which is what is what is linked to the vaccination QR code.
After the Global News story, services that help vulnerable people started to warn those who could be in danger.
“We’ve been distributing the information once it became available to us through our centre to our participants, making sure that they’re aware of what is going on and the risks to them,” said Bissell Centre CEO Gary St. Amand.
St. Amand said Bissell was not aware of the allegations beforehand. He called the reports “abhorrent and sickening.”
The Hope Mission is also sharing the information with its clients.
“We are talking with Alberta Health, we’re talking with our community health nurses and figuring out how best to move forward to ensure the safety of our clients as much as possible,” Hope Mission community liaison Lauren Reid told Global News.
Reid also found the claims disturbing. She said she was glad the Edmonton Police Service is investigating and that the reports have been brought to light.
“It’s honestly awful,” Reid said. “It’s very shocking, to be honest, that this is something that people would do.
“It’s obviously very dangerous for the people that we serve, for anyone who is doing these multiple vaccinations, it’s not safe in that short period of time. It just makes us really sad that this is happening.”
The investigation comes as the community is already feeling desperate, according to St. Amand.
“Beyond the pandemic and the cold weather, you have the opioid crisis and we had a record number of overdoses in our centre in December, and we’re seeing that across the sector. So this is like a crisis within a crisis within a crisis.”
Both the Bissell Centre and Hope Mission said that in an effort to protect people, they would ask clients to report any cases of people being offered money to be vaccinated.
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