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Missouri reports ‘slight increase’ in vaccination rates after proposing incentives

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Daily vaccination rates have increased slightly in Missouri after the state unveiled new COVID-19 vaccine incentive programs last week. 

The state’s 7-day average rate for doses administered exceeds 12,000 a day, up from previous averages between 7,000-10,000 reported in the weeks before the programs were announced. As of Tuesday morning, more than 86,000 doses had been administered in the state over the last seven days.

Around 250,000 Missourians were signed up for the MO VIP program by Tuesday morning, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Last week the department reported more than 100,000 applicants within its first 24 hours. 

More than 16,000 doses were administered two days after the programs were announced, the most vaccinations reported in a day since late May.

The department also promoted its MO ABLE program, which allows Missourians with disabilities to save up to $15,000 a year tax-free for health-related expenses without losing federal benefits. The program would allow those with disabilities to participate in the MO VIP program while maintaining those benefits, an opportunity applauded by Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, the program’s administrator.

“I am happy to work with DHSS to highlight this important program as a way to ensure those with disabilities are able to participate in the incentive program without the risk of losing necessary benefits if and when they choose to be vaccinated,” Fitzpatrick said.

Under the MO VIP incentive program, 900 Missourians will have the chance to win cash or prizes amounting to $10,000 over the next three months. The program will use federal COVID-19 funds to award adults receiving the vaccine as well as grant education savings accounts to students. 

Incentives are available on the local level as well: Health agencies administering the vaccine are eligible to provide gift cards up to $25 for each vaccine recipient, totaling $11 million from CDC Immunizations grant funding. The fund will provide incentives for up to 440,000 vaccines and sunset at the end of the year.

More than 2.5 million Missourians have been fully vaccinated thus far, amounting to nearly 41 percent of the state’s population, while 2.9 million have received at least the first dose. The state has reported more than 11,300 new positive cases in the past seven days and 24 deaths.