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Some Maine colleges rely on honor system for proof of vaccination status

The College of the Atlantic and Saint Joseph's College of Maine haven’t verified every student's COVID-19 vaccination card.

ORONO, Maine — Across the country, colleges and universities are dealing with students submitting fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

In Maine, many colleges and universities are requiring COVID-19 vaccines for the fall semester. So far, no schools have reported an issue with students submitting false proof of vaccination.   

“At this time, we’ve had no issues as far as receiving any fraudulent information, at least, that we’re aware of," said Central Maine Community College associate dean of enrollment Andrew Morong. 

Morong adds the college is trusting students to share legitimate proof of vaccination.

"We're in the business of collecting a lot of personal information for our students to navigate their higher education experience and that's not something we have to deal a lot with," shares Morong. "We trust our students to provide the most accurate and correct information that they have available." 

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In Standish, Saint Joseph's College of Maine is following a similar vaccination system.

“Everyone knows each other," said Oliver Griswold, the chief brand and marketing officer at Saint Joseph's College of Maine. "It’s pretty hard to get away with falsifying that information. We don't think our students are going to participate in that.”

According to Griswold, the college has a 96.5% vaccination rate. He credits this to an early mandate deadline well before fake vaccine cards became a concern. 

"We have not verified every vaccine card,” Griswold admits. "We had [students] upload the photo of the vaccine card through an encrypted form that went straight to our health and wellness center. There is no verification beyond that."  

Bar Harbor's College of The Atlantic also hasn't verified all its student's vaccine information. 

“We’re not really staffed up to really be confirming every card by calling the provider or the venue that’s listed for giving the vaccine,” explains Rob Levin, director of communications at the College of The Atlantic. 

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Due to the college's "small and compassionate community," Levin adds that he doesn't expect fake vaccine cards to be an issue.

"Because of the nature of the [vaccine cards], they're just paper with some writing on them, there's not really much we can do if someone decides to take this unfortunate route."

If a student is caught with providing false vaccine information, Levin said it's unlikely students would be able to continue their education at the college.

In response to the surge of the COVID-19 Delta variant, The University of Maine System requires students to be vaccinated against the virus by Friday, August 20.

“We’ve had a total of over 15,000 thousand verifications submitted, and students are about 70% of that," said UMaine, director of public affairs Dan Demeritt.

Demeritt said fake vaccine cards have not been an issue for Maine.

“Every vaccination card that gets uploaded by a student, faculty, or staff member gets visually inspected by a university official to check the name, and to check the dose, and the date of the vaccine administered," Demeritt tells NEWS CENTER Maine. 

He adds, submitting false proof of vaccination is a violation of the UMaine student conduct code. Students caught would face the consequences. The university has not shared what those consequences would be.