Missouri sees uptick in vaccination rates as incentives expand

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As Missouri prepares to award the first prizes to those who registered for its $9 million COVID-19 vaccine incentive program, daily vaccination rates are up. Plus, the amount for individual incentives is increasing and school districts are offering employees vaccination incentives.

The average number of vaccinations per day in Missouri increased 15% (from 10,848 to 12,469) during the 19-day period (July 22 to Aug. 9) after Gov. Mike Parson announced the incentive, compared to the average for June, according to Missouri's COVID-19 Dashboard. The average number of vaccinations per day increased 29% (from 9,667 to 12,469) when compared to the first 21 days of July.

Missouri ranks 40th in the nation with a rate of 42% of those fully vaccinated. Its percentage of those fully vaccinated increased from 34.4% on June 1 to 42.2% on Aug. 8.

“We are encouraged to see more and more people taking the step to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19,” Robert Knodell, the acting director for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said in a statement.

A study by Boston University researchers found a vaccine lottery in Ohio didn’t increase vaccinations in the state. “Further evidence supporting the effectiveness of lotteries as strategies for increasing vaccine uptake are needed prior to widespread and potentially costly adoption,” the researchers noted.

Last week, President Joe Biden urged states to increase individual vaccine incentives to $100 and pay for them from American Rescue Plan funds distributed to states and local governments. As Missouri developed its incentive program in July, federal regulators denied its request to exceed the individual incentive rate of $25. Missouri is providing $11 million to local public health agencies who submit applications for individual incentives.

School districts are beginning to offer incentives and prizes for fully vaccinated employees.

The Joplin Board of Education approved a vaccine incentive program to provide $25 to each fully vaccinated school district employee and substitute, the Joplin Globe reported. District employees will have an additional opportunity for one of four $2,500 prizes.

The Normandy School District Board of Education approved a $750 incentive to any employee who can verify they’ve been fully vaccinated.

“We’re taking COVID-19 very seriously,” Marcus Robinson, superintendent of Normandy, told KSDK. “Since the vaccine is available, we want to maximize the number of folks who work with kids who have been vaccinated against this deadly disease.”

Approximately 62% of Normandy’s 400-person staff communicated they were fully vaccinated.

The first of Missouri's five drawings will generate 180 winners and 900 overall. A cash prize of $10,000 will be awarded to 800 adults and 100 between the ages of 12 and 17. More than 375,000 vaccinated Missourians entered the program. Winners will be randomly selected from three categories: age 18 and older receiving at least one dose before July 21, age 18 and older receiving at least one dose after July 21, and between age 12 and 17 receiving one dose at any time. Those winners between ages 12 and 17 will receive a $10,000 education savings account through the Missouri State Treasurer’s MOST 529 program.

“The program is prompting people to have important conversations with people they trust – family, friends, doctors or others,” Knodell said. “That's part of what this program is all about.”

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