Winners of the fifth and final drawing of Missouri’s Vaccine Incentive Program (MO VIP) were announced at this link. Since Governor Mike Parson announced the launch of the program on July 21, MO VIP has been incentivizing COVID-19 vaccination, while also providing an opportunity for rewards for the Missourians who had already made the decision to be protected from COVID-19 through vaccination.
During the life of the program, 57,117 adults (18 and over) received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and entered the MO VIP for a chance to win a $10,000 prize. More than 39,000 adolescents ages 12-17 also initiated vaccination and entered to win. As of today, federal and state data show that 58 percent of Missouri’s eligible population (age 12 and up) has completed vaccination, while 66 percent have initiated vaccination by receiving the first dose.
“The individual and community-wide residual effects of the MO VIP will provide opportunities for Missourians for many years to come,” said Donald Kauerauf, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). “This program was a success for the obvious reason that it encouraged residents to consider COVID-19 vaccination, but it did so much more than that. It is allowing a child the opportunity to be a first-generation college student. It is giving a woman with terminal cancer some peace of mind as she makes plans for her family. It is allowing a family to plan their first out-of-state vacation because they could never make it work financially. And it’s all happening because they determined vaccination was right for them.”
In all, 800 adults were randomly selected as winners of a $10,000 cash prize, and 100 minors were awarded a $10,000 MOST 529 college savings account.
One winner of the final drawing is Lillian Bridgeman, age 15, from Columbia. Lillian has Down syndrome which has been shown to put her at much greater risk of complications related to COVID-19. She was grateful when vaccines became available for kids her age because, without that protection, it meant not seeing her friends, not going to school in person, and not traveling with her family. Now, she gets to do all three again.
Lillian’s mother, Pauline Bridgeman, stated, “If you’re not ready to get the COVID-19 vaccine yourself because you are low risk, know that it will also make you more available to your family members and loved ones if they get COVID-19.”
Lillian added, “Do not be afraid to get the vaccine shot. It’s good for your body.”
She was ecstatic to learn she was a MO VIP winner. At just age 15, Lillian has already been researching special needs colleges for years and looks forward to continuing her education after high school.
The launch of MO VIP came at a time when COVID-19 was surging in Missouri, and the state was the country’s ground zero for the significant spread of the Delta variant.
“The timing of the launch of this program was so impactful,” said Kauerauf. “Obviously an incentive program is not going to be the silver bullet that causes everyone to choose vaccination and end COVID-19. But for the thousands of people that this program incentivized, the vaccination may have saved their life or the life of a loved one during a time that was challenging for many areas of the state. Every person vaccinated lessens the opportunity for the virus to spread further.”
DHSS partnered with Missouri Lottery to conduct a fair and secure program with a randomized selection process. DHSS used federal Coronavirus Relief Funds for this sweepstakes. This funding was approved under previous and current federal administrations for broad COVID-19 response purposes to include efforts to boost vaccine uptake.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available in Missouri. Get the facts about vaccines, including booster doses, and find a vaccine near you on the Missouri Stops COVID website.
View Lillian and more MO VIP winners’ stories here.