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Missouri launches vaccine incentive programs

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri is launching multiple incentive programs for Missourians who get vaccinated against COVID-19, state leaders announced Wednesday. 

Under the MO VIP program, 900 Missourians will have the chance to win cash or prizes amounting to $10,000 over the next three months. Gov. Mike Parson noted the rise in positive cases as the delta variant makes its way across the state, encouraging those unsure about the vaccine to consult trusted health care providers. 

“We understand that some Missourians are hesitant towards getting the vaccine, but we must all take personal responsibility and do right by our own health and that of our friends and family by getting vaccinated,” Parson said. “This new program will complement our existing efforts to educate Missourians about the importance of getting the vaccine.” 

“Our current COVID-19 situation is serious,” he continued. “This delta variant transmits faster than what we have previously seen and is more likely to impact children and the unvaccinated  so now is the perfect opportunity to get vaccinated and earn your shot at $10,000.”

Drawings will begin Aug. 13 and continue biweekly through Oct. 8. All winners will have their vaccination records verified before receiving their prizes. 

Entries will be divided into three categories: 

  • Red: Missourians who are at least 18 years old and have received at least one dose after July 21 
  • White: Missourians who are at least 18 years old and received at least dose before July 21
  • Blue: Missourians aged 12-17 receiving at least one dose at any time 

The first two categories will see 80 winners selected for a $10,000 prize, with 10 winners from each congressional district. Winners from the Blue category will receive $10,000 education savings accounts (ESAs) through the Treasurer’s Office.  

Rep. Phil Christofanelli, who sponsored an ESA bill recently signed into law by Parson, applauded the move on social media.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the Missouri Lottery are collaborating on the randomized drawing, using federal coronavirus relief funds. 

Members of the executive branch, legislators and their households, incarcerated felons, and employees of the departments involved in the initiatives are ineligible. Winners who owe money to the state will see a deduction from their winnings to cover their debt.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rejected a previous plan for surpassing its cap of $25 per person and the use of a raffle system. DHSS’s Acting Director Robert Knodell said the incentive program was funded through a new federal allotment. 

Additionally, local health agencies administering the vaccine will be eligible to provide incentives up to $25 for each vaccine recipient, totaling $11 million from CDC Immunizations grant funding. The fund would provide incentives for up to 440,000 vaccines and sunset at the end of the year.  

Parson also announced Donald Kauerauf as the new director of DHSS Wednesday. He will begin his tenure at the department in September.