Update: On Friday the Department of Health and Senior Services reports that over 165,000 people have signed up for the lottery.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Less than 24 hours after Governor Mike Parson announced the state would be offering incentives for getting a vaccine, more than 100,000 Missourians ages 12 and older already threw their name into the hat for a chance to win.
The governor released the details on the program Wednesday where over the next three months, 900 Missourians will have the chance to win cash or educations savings account prizes in the amount of $10,000.
The program is called the Missouri Vaccine Incentive Program (VIP) and is open for registration now. There are three different categories Missourians can fall into, depending on when they get the vaccine. But the program does not require Missourians to be fully vaccinated to win one of the $10,000 prizes. Instead, the state health department said, for now, the goal is for people to get their first shot.
“The goal here is to get people to take another look at vaccination,” Acting Director for the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Robert Knodell said during a call Thursday. “In light of the conditions in communities across the state and in light of the transmissibility of this variant that we are dealing with right now.”
According to the state’s website, only 40% of Missouri’s population is fully vaccinated, which is why the state started offering incentives.
“When you look at our vaccination rates in the state, we need people to step forward and get that first shot,” Knodell said. “At one point, we were vaccinating in the neighborhood of 50,000 or more in a given day. Now, we’ve seen that drop in recent weeks to less than 10,000 a day.”
The Missouri Lottery will randomly pick winners from every category every two weeks. The three categories, Red, White, and Blue, are based on when you receive your vaccine.
Entries will be divided into three categories:
- Red: Missourians age 18 and up receiving at least one dose of vaccine after July 21.
- White: Missourians age 18 and up receiving at least one dose of vaccine before July 21.
- Blue: Missourians ages 12 to 17 receiving at least one dose of vaccine at any time.
A winner must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:
- Must be a living citizen of the United States and a permanent resident of the State of Missouri.
- Must be age 12 or older.
- Must have received at least the first COVID-19 vaccination if receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose if receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, prior to the drawing date (records will be verified).
Eighty winners will be randomly selected during each drawing from the Red and White categories. There will be ten winners from each congressional district.
During each drawing, 20 adolescents from the Blue category will be randomly selected to receive a $10,000 education savings account through the Missouri State Treasurer’s MOST 529 program.
“We will hold those accounts for the winners until they reach the age of 18 and then that account will be conveyed to the winning individual.”
Besides the state offering money, local health agencies will be able to offer $25 gift cards for each person who is vaccinated. This program alone is expected to cost $11 million with the money coming through immunization grant funds from the CDC. Those agencies are required to submit their plan to the state by Aug. 15.
“There’s no magic number to get there, at one point we were simply struggling to stop the decline, but not only do we want to stop the decline, but we also want to see the numbers go up,” Knodell said.
Missourians who are vaccinated are not automatically enrolled in the program. Knodell said they wanted to make sure the state had consent to access their records.
It’s a one-time registration, with hundreds of chances to win.
“I think everyone who gets vaccinated during the duration of this program is a winner whether they get a prize or not because this vaccine will allow them to live their lives more confidently and more normal,” Knodell said.
Knodell said the state will track the program regularly and will announce how many people are registered before each drawing.
“We will continue to find ways to encourage them and remind them to get the second vaccination,” Knodell said.
The total cost of the program is $20 million with nearly half of that coming from the state’s CARES Act funds. The first drawing is set for Aug. 13 and drawings will occur every two weeks with the final drawing scheduled for Oct. 8. To enter your name for a chance to win, visit www.mostopscovid.com/winThose without the ability to enter the sweepstakes online can get assistance by calling the COVID-19 hotline Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. at 877-435-8411.