KEY POINTS

  • Laura Parker Russo, 54, was seen in a Snapchat video injecting what is believed to be a COVID-19 vaccine to her son's 17-year-old friend 
  • Russo, who has no medical license, pleaded not guilty to felony unauthorized practice of a profession
  • She has been ordered to stay away from her son's friend and will appear again in court Tuesday

A 54-year-old high school teacher in New York is facing up to four years in prison after she allegedly injected a neighbor's son with a COVID-19 vaccine over the holidays without the consent of the minor's parents.

Laura Parker Russo, of Sea Cliff, left the Nassau County courthouse Friday without bail after she pleaded not guilty to unauthorized practice of a profession — a class E felony, CBS 2 reported.

A judge also ordered her to stay away from the 17-year-old boy, a friend of her son, according to the outlet.

Russo, a 10th-grade biology teacher at Herricks High School, was reportedly seen in a Snapchat video administering what prosecutors believe is a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to the teen inside her Long Island home on New Year’s Eve without the approval of the minor's parents.

While the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the vaccine in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that only people above the age of 18 receive it.

Russo is not a licensed medical professional, but she "is constantly giving medicine" as some of her family members are diabetic, Michael DerGarabedian, her defense attorney, was cited as saying by ABC 7.

"There was no ill-intended motive. She wasn't making money. She wasn't trying to hurt anybody. So, figure it out yourself. She was trying to do good," DerGarabedian said.

However, Russo's act "was almost treated as if [she and the teen] were doing something funny," according to Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly.

"It’s not funny when you are breaking the law and injecting children," the district attorney, who was concerned that "copycats" will imitate Russo's behavior, was quoted as saying.

Non-medical workers who are found giving vaccines without permission to friends and relatives are liable and will be criminally charged, Donnelly said.

The vials of the vaccine Russo used, which she allegedly got from a pharmacy, are being tested.

Russo's school district has reassigned her pending the outcome of her case. She is due to return to court Tuesday.

Close to 74% of all New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, while nearly 87% have received at least one dose, according to publicly available government data.

The U.S., overall, has reported a total of 70,206,220 COVID-19 cases and 862,494 virus-related deaths, data provided by the CDC showed.

iphone-3575940_1920 Representation. Laura Parker Russo was seen on a Snapchat video administering what prosecutors believed was a dose of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to her son's 17-year-old friend inside her home on New Year’s Eve Photo: Pixabay