KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 900 Missourians who receive at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine will win $10,000, either in cash or in an education savings account, starting Aug. 13 and ending Oct. 8.
Gov. Mike Parson announced the program Wednesday, and as of early Thursday, 78,000 Missourians had entered the MO Vaccination Incentive Program, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services Communications Director Lisa Cox.
Cox also said around 500,000 people visited the webpage since the program was announced. That is the most traffic the Missouri COVID-19 vaccine webpage has received since February.
"500,000 people looking at a website that is packed with factual information about COVID-19 is a win already," Robert Knodell, interim director of DHSS, said.
Traffic to the webpage increased so much that for a 10 minute period Wednesday afternoon the site experienced a minor crash.
"We had some spottiness and some individuals would get an error message," Cox said about the MO VIP sign up page. "It wasn't too much of an issue on our end. A brief little hiccup."
Cox said this shows that there is a lot of immediate interest in the incentive program.
Missourians who sign up for the program will be sorted into three categories: red, white and blue. The red category consists of people age 18 and up who received at least one does of the vaccine on or after July 21, the white category is people age 18 and up who received at least one dose of the vaccine before July 21. The blue category is people age 12 to 17 who received at least one dose of the vaccine at any time, according to a press release. The blue group will need parental permission to enter the program.
Every two weeks, starting Aug. 13, 80 winners from the red and white categories and 20 winners from the blue category will be drawn by the Missouri Lottery. Winners are selected by their congressional districts.
The funding for the program comes from CARES Act funding provided by the federal government and appropriated by the Missouri General Assembly specifically for the incentive program, according to Knodell.
The MO VIP program comes alongside a local public health agency incentive program that was approved and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The local program consists of gift cards capped at $25 to individuals receiving the vaccine, and DHSS will be providing more information on the program at a later date.
Knodell said these incentive programs are the department's way of getting Missourians to take another look at getting vaccinated as the delta variant spreads throughout the state.
"We need people to step forward and get that first shot," Knodell said.