Missouri unveils lottery with $10,000 prizes to encourage COVID vaccination

Missouri residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19 now have the opportunity to win $10,000 through a new state incentive program announced by Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday in an effort to boost vaccinations across the state.

As part of the program, vaccinated Missouri residents will be eligible to win $10,000 through a series of five lotteries taking place between August and October. In total, 900 residents will win. Missourians can enter the lottery using the state COVID-19 vaccine website. To be eligible, a person must be a permanent resident of the state and have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

From Aug. 13 to Oct. 8, the state will select 180 winners every two weeks. Those winners will be chosen from three groups: 80 Missourians 18 and older who received a dose before July 21; 80 residents 18 and older who receive one dose after July 21; and 20 Missourians aged 12-17 who have received one dose at any time.

Winners in the first two categories will receive $10,000, while those in the latter category will receive a $10,000 education savings account.

The $9 million program is being funded by federal Coronavirus Relief Funds, according to a press release from the governor’s office. It is a partnership between the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services and the Missouri Lottery.

In addition, local health departments can provide incentives of $25 per vaccination with an upper limit of $11 million. Health departments will submit incentive plans to the state for approval by Aug. 15. This program is being funded through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s immunizations grant funding.

“We are hopeful that together, these programs will encourage Missourians to explore every opportunity available to get vaccinated,” Parson said Wednesday.

Missouri lags behind the nation in vaccination rates. Currently, 40.4% of Missouri residents, or about 2.5 million people, have completed COVID-19 vaccination, according to state data. Young people are much less likely to be vaccinated in Missouri. According to state data, 28.4% of Missourians ages 12 to 24 have completed their vaccinations. Nationally, 49% of the population has done so.

The delta variant has been fueling outbreaks across the state, particularly in southwest Missouri. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Greene County hit a new high Monday, passing the previous peak recorded in December. Almost all of those hospitalized are unvaccinated.

“As we experienced these localized increases in COVID-19 spread, unvaccinated Missourians are the primary target of this new COVID-19 strain,” Parson said. “While the delta strain is more contagious, the vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective against it. We encourage all Missourians to consider getting vaccinated as almost all new COVID hospitalizations can be attributed to unvaccinated individuals.”

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