close up hand of doctor put label covid-19 vaccine sticker on vaccination certificate card and passport
Octavio Jones / Stringer/Getty Images (rights managed)

A nursing leader at a South Carolina skilled nursing facility is facing charges for allegedly producing fake COVID-19 vaccination cards in what’s believed to be the first case of its kind in the state.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina announced the charges Friday against Tammy McDonald, 53. McDonald serves as a director of nursing at a SNF in Columbia, but officials did not identify the facility.

She was charged with two counts of producing fake vaccination cards and one count of lying to federal investigators about her role in making the cards. 

Healthcare providers across the country have been under intense scrutiny when it comes to ensuring the vaccine status of their employees, who would be covered under a federal vaccine mandate that is currently on pause thanks to legal challenges.

Investigators alleged McDonald made the cards on June 20 and July 28 for individuals she knew hadn’t received a COVID-19 vaccine. When questioned by federal agents, she said she never produced inaccurate or false cards.

Her attorney Jim Griffin told a South Carolina judge on Thursday that she only made the cards to help a family member and didn’t get paid for creating the cards, according to a report by The State. She’s the first in South Carolina to face federal criminal charges for making fake vaccination cards, according to the report. 

“She is a very qualified and competent registered nurse,” Griffin added. 

McDonald pleaded not guilty to all three charges and has been released on $10,000 bond. She faces up to 15 years in prison for each count of making fake vaccination record cards and five years for lying federal investigators.