Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced his statewide COVID-19 vaccine incentive program on Wednesday, but St. Francois County Health Center Director Linda Ragdale isn’t sure how big of a difference it will make in the county.
“I do hope this campaign will boost our vaccination rates, although I have not seen any data on how incentives have increased rates across the country,” she said. “I feel some people in our community will get vaccinated just to be able to be included in the MO VIP drawing, but I don’t think it will be enough to put St. Francois County COVID vaccination rates where we would like it to be.”
The vaccination rate for St. Francois County is 30.4% for those who have completed vaccination, which lags behind the state’s 40.4%.
The health center is still strongly encouraging and promoting the vaccine, Ragsdale said.
“With the delta variant on the rise across the state and children under 12 unable to receive the vaccine, it is the best defense we have right now,” she added.
According to a press release from Parson’s office, over the next three months, 900 Missourians who have or will choose to be vaccinated will win cash or education savings account prizes in the amount of $10,000 in the MO VIP campaign.
"We understand that the 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. 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."
The MO VIP incentivizes vaccination for those who have not yet been vaccinated as well as provides an opportunity for rewards for the 2.8 million Missourians who have already made the decision to be protected through vaccination, the release said.
Following are the details of the campaign, according to the governor’s office:
Missourians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are now able to enter to win one of the 900 prizes. The first drawing will be on August 13; drawings will occur every two weeks with the final drawing scheduled for October 8. Once Missouri residents receive a dose, they become eligible to enter the sweepstakes at MOStopsCovid.com/win.
Once entered, their entry will be carried over through all the drawings. There is no need to enter more than once. The entry list will be reviewed, and duplicate entries will be removed prior to each drawing. 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).
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.
Eighty winners will be randomly selected during each drawing from the Red and White categories (10 from each congressional district). These individuals will each receive a cash prize of $10,000. 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. This means every two weeks of the program, 180 Missourians will be winners for a total of 900 individuals. These preliminary winners will all have their vaccination status verified.
Also on Wednesday, Parson announced Donald G. Kauerauf will be the next director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, effective Sept. 1.
“We are excited to welcome Don to Missouri and look forward to the great work he is sure to accomplish in service to all Missourians,” Parson said in a news release. “Don is no stranger to state government and has more than 30 years of experience in public health and emergency management with the state of Illinois. It is obvious that he has a firm grasp on public health issues and the COVID-19 crisis, and we are confident in his ability to lead DHSS.”
According to the governor’s office, Kauerauf served as the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health from 2016 until his retirement in 2018. More recently, he was selected to chair the Illinois Terrorism Task Force and has served in that capacity throughout the COVID-19 crisis. In his position as chair of the Terrorism Task Force, Kauerauf also served as deputy to the Illinois Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor and policy advisor to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director.
Nikki Overfelt-Chifalu is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.