(CNN)New York's governor signed legislation Wednesday criminalizing fake Covid-19 vaccination cards, according to a news release from her office.
The new law makes the falsification of cards a misdemeanor and creates a new felony of "computer tampering in the third degree for intentional entering, alteration or destruction of 'computer material' regarding COVID-19 vaccine provisions," Gov. Kathy Hochul's office said.
The law comes amid a fresh tightening of rules requiring proof of vaccination in cities across the United States -- including New York -- as the Omicron coronavirus variant spreads rapidly ahead of the Christmas holiday.
"Individuals who misrepresent their vaccination history, not only jeopardize their own health, but the health of all those they come into contact with. This legislation ensures that as New York opens up and many businesses choose to rely on checking vaccination status, the falsification of vaccination records will not be tolerated," the release from Hochul's office states.
The bill was signed as part of a package that also gives schools improved access to the statewide immunization database. It also directs the state's health commissioner to study delivery of medical care in response to the pandemic, and it directs the state's Department of Financial Services to study how the pandemic affected underserved areas, and small businesses and minority- and women-owned businesses getting loans.
"The remarkable ease at which it appears that New Yorkers could falsify vaccination records to feign compliance is astonishing. This new law will undoubtedly help prosecutors and other law enforcement hold people accountable for the damage they are doing to public health," state Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz said.
"Countless employers, schools, small businesses, and communities are relying on genuine proof of vaccination status," state Sen. Anna Kaplan said. "It's never been more urgent that we protect this process from fraud."