The state is investing $9 million to get more Missourians vaccinated by giving them a chance to win $10,000 in a series of raffles.
Gov. Mike Parson announced that Missourians who are vaccinated or choose to get vaccinated over the next three months will be eligible to enter the drawings.
Winners of the biweekly raffles will receive cash or education savings accounts worth $10,000 through the incentive campaign. Drawings will begin Aug. 13 and continue every two weeks until Oct. 8 with 180 winners for each drawing for a total of 900 winners.
With 40.4% of Missourians fully vaccinated to date, the state falls below the national average at 48.8% and ranks 39th in the country.
The governor urged those resisting vaccinations to seek information from health professionals.
“One of the best ways we can move the needle is by having trusted community voices relaying complete and fact-based information,” Parson said.
During Wednesday’s news conference, Parson also announced Donald Kauerauf as the new director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Kauerauf, former assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, will fill the role effective Sept. 1
He has more than 30 years of experience in state government and has served in various senior leadership positions in public health and emergency management, according to an official statement from the Governor’s Office.
Kauerauf will fill the position vacated by Randall Williams in April after he resigned under fire for the increasing number of COVID-19 cases that put a strain on hospitals across the state.
Robert Knodell has served as interim director since Williams resigned.
The new vaccination incentive program, which Parson calls “MO VIP,” is intended to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations and boost the state’s low percentage rate. Missouri has also seen a surge of cases and hospitalizations prompted by the spread of the delta variant.
On Wednesday, state officials reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases since mid-January. The seven-day average rose to 2,144 per day, more than triple the average since June.
To have a chance to win $10,000 in the incentive program, Parson said a resident must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:
• Must be a citizen of the United States and a permanent resident 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 of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before a drawing date.
Applicants will be divided into these three categories based on age and date of vaccination:
• Missourians age 18 and up who received at least one dose of vaccine after July 21.
• Missourians 18 and up who received at least one dose of vaccine before July 21.
• Missourians 12 to 17 who have received at least one dose of vaccine at any time.
Eighty winners will be randomly selected during each drawing from the first two groups with 10 from each congressional district. These winners will each receive a cash prize of $10,000.
During every drawing, 20 from group 12 to 17 will be randomly selected to receive a $10,000 savings account through the state’s 529 education investment plan.
Missouri is not the only state offering vaccination incentives. Illinois is awarding 50,000 free tickets to Six Flags amusement parks to anyone who has been vaccinated.
Health officials in Indiana announced that residents will get a box of Girl Scout cookies with each vaccination.