(Jefferson City) -- With new infections of COVID-19 rising in Missouri, Governor Mike Parson has announced a vaccine incentive program that will give vaccinated individuals a chance to win $10,000.
Parson announced the MO VIP program Wednesday, which will hold drawings every two weeks from August 13th-October 8th. The new program comes as Missouri is averaging nearly 2,100 new cases per day of COVID-19 around the state, primarily from the Delta variant of the virus.
"Unvaccinated Missourians are the primary target of this new COVID-19 strain," said Parson. "While the Delta strain is more contagious, the vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective against it. We encourage all Missourians to consider getting vaccinated as almost all new COVID hospitalizations can be attributed to unvaccinated individuals."
The winners will be split equally amongst the eight Congressional districts in Missouri. Parson says those getting vaccinated will be divided into three categories and can enter to win at MOStopsCOVID.com/win.
"The red category includes Missourians age 18 and up who receive at least one dose after July 21st," said Parson. "The white category includes Missourians age 18 and up who have received at least one dose before July 21st. The blue category includes Missourians ages 12-17 receiving at least one dose at any time."
Parson says the decision to get vaccinated remains a personal choice and he was hesitant to offer any sort of incentive program, but he says the vaccine has proved effective at stopping deadly symptoms from the virus.
"I ask you to turn off the clutter, the doom and gloom scenarios that are out there across our state and all the misinformation that's out there, all the people that have a political agenda to talk about this virus," said Parson. "I ask you to go to the health care leaders in your communities, the people you trust like your doctors and your clergies. Those are the people you know that will give you good information and be able to make your judgments on getting a vaccine. I encourage you to do that and then make your decision for you and your family."
Missouri will use $9 million in federal COVID-19 relief dollars to cover the cost of the program. The state also announced a program that would allow local county public health departments to give out $25 to each individual getting a vaccine.
"We know right now there is going to be a hesitancy -- whether it's in Missouri or any other state," said Parson. "We also know there's people on the borderline of whether to get it or not. With all of the confusion and misinformation that's out today, I encourage you to talk to your doctor, talk to the health experts in your communities that are truly on the frontline. Talk to them and make your decisions from that information."
Missouri currently ranks 39th in terms of population vaccinated with 40.4% -- or around 2.5 million people -- fully vaccinated.