JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missourians have less than two days to enter their name into the state’s vaccine incentive program before the final drawing.
Back in July, the governor along with the state’s health department announced Missouri Vaccine Incentive Program (VIP), giving 900 Missourians a chance to win thousands of dollars as long as they got at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. According to the Department of Health and Senior Services 650,000 people have thrown their name in the hat for a chance to win with the final drawing later this week.
So far, 720 Missourians have won, and another 180 names will be drawn Friday. Four of the winners spoke with our Missouri Capitol Bureau Reporter Emily Manley about why they registered and they are doing with the $10,000 prize.
“It’s crazy, it’s $10,000, it’s hard for me to even wrap my head around winning $10,000,” Chillicothe High School junior Isabelle Witt said. “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet.”
Witt was one of the first winners of the state’s vaccine incentive program. She won $10,000 but in the form of an education savings account.
“My mom got the email and when she first told me I was like are you sure it’s not spam, like spam mail?,” Witt said laughing.
Witt said she planned to get vaccinated at some point, but once the incentive program was announced she rolled up her sleeve for a shot.
She wants to attend Missouri State in Springfield for business and says this scholarship will help her accomplish that goal.
“I applied for this thinking what if and I get $10,000 out of it,” Witt said. “I just think everybody should enter because there’s no reason not to.”
Seventh-grader from East Buchanan Middle School Kendyl Edwards also won an education savings account. She was vaccinated back in June and did it so she wouldn’t miss volleyball practice.
“If you missed them, you would have to miss games until you make those 14 practices up,” Edwards said. “I didn’t want to miss a game.”
She said she thought her mom was joking when she picked her up from practice one day and told her she won $10,000.
“We never really win anything,” Edwards said. “I’m just really grateful and thankful that I did because it will help me out a lot with school.”
When the program rolled out back in July, 40 percent of Missourians were vaccinated. Now, it’s 48 percent.
“We did it to protect our parents, our children and the people around us,” Fayette, Missouri resident and Mo VIP winner Scott Queen said. “We were already vaccinated so we were happy to jump in there and see if we could win $10,000.”
Queen, director of marketing at Central Methodist University, said him and his wife applied for the incentive program right away, excited that it would increase the state’s vaccination rate.
“My wife and I both had COVID and we wanted to protect ourselves and we wanted to protect others,” Queen said. “I was very happy when I saw the announcement of the program because I hope, and I think it would be good for our state.”
He said the original plan was to put the money in the bank, but that changed about a week ago.
“Last weekend it went towards a new boat; we have a new boat,” Queen said. “I never expected anything to come of it. Funny story, I’m pretty sure I deleted their first email notifying me.”
Rebecca White, a cardiology nurse at Phelps Health in Rolla received her vaccine in February, when she was 18 months pregnant with identical twin girls.
“The risk of getting COVID was a lot worse than any potential unknown side effects of the vaccine,” White said. “I know that if I had a high-risk pregnancy anyway, if I was to get COVID, I was a lot more likely to have a severe illness.”
Her twins were born a month early due to the girls sharing a placenta, not a side effect from the vaccine she said. Her $10,000 winnings are now going to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after her daughters spent 18 days there.
“I think you should get vaccinated for the right reasons of course because you know how to keep yourself healthy and safe and to keep everyone else around you safe, but you know why not take a chance and enter yourself for a chance to win,” White said. “There’s nothing to lose so why not.”
These Missourians want to tell others, get vaccinated to be safe and healthy with a chance to win $10,000.
“Just don’t be nervous because it doesn’t hurt at all,” Edwards said.
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, before 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.
According to DHSS, 52,00 adults have entered the red category, 547,000 Missourians have entered the white category, and more than 38,000 minors have registered under the blue category.
The department said at this time there is no discussion or plans to continue the program past Friday’s drawing. Winners will be announced Oct. 20.
Missourians have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to enter. If you have previously registered, you don’t need to again.
The total cost of the program is $20 million with nearly half of that coming from the state’s CARES Act funds. To enter your name for a chance to win, visit www.mostopscovid.com/win. Those 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.