JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Telling Missourians he is "depending on you and your family to make the right choices," Gov. Mike Parson encouraged the unvaccinated Wednesday to talk to trusted sources and offered them a chance at $10,000 to get the coronavirus vaccine.
The state will offer people 12 and older who have had at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine a chance to enter a drawing for $10,000 starting Aug. 13. Drawings will be held every two weeks through Oct. 8. People under 18 will be entered to win a $10,000 education savings account.
The state will also provide funding for local health departments to provide a $25 incentive for people who get vaccinated.
Watch the full press conference in the player below.
Parson said the incentives will complement the existing state education effort, which costs $5 million.
Entries will be divided into three categories of red, white, and blue. The red category will include those age 18 and up receiving at least one dose of vaccine after July 21. The blue group will be individuals age 18 and up receiving at least one dose of vaccine before July 21. The blue group will include Missourians ages 12 to 17 receiving at least one dose of vaccine at any time.
Eighty winners will be randomly selected during each drawing from the Red and White categories.
The governor made a personal plea with Missourians to seek out vaccines amid a sharp rise in cases powered by the more contagious delta variant.
"Vaccines are available anywhere you go and they are free," Parson said. "We walk past the vaccine every day in every corner of our state. We must all take personal responsibility and do what is right to protect our health and that of our friends and families."
The prizes will cost about $9 million.
Missouri is among the top states for new coronavirus infections but has a vaccination rate of only 40.4%. About 90% of the new coronavirus infections in the state are from the more contagious delta variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parson attributed the virus surge to "localized" outbreaks.
Parson said the vaccination rate for people age 12-24 is 30%.
Parson said Missourians should avoid the politics of the coronavirus vaccine issue and seek out the facts from sources they know and trust in their communities.
"I ask you to turn off the clutter," Parson said directly to Missourians. "The doom and gloom scenarios that are out there across our state. All the misinformation that’s out there. All the people who have a political agenda to talk about this virus."
Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, said this program is mainly for those who are on the fence about receiving the vaccine. "Some people are doing this (getting vaccinated) to protect themselves and others are doing it to protect maybe their family member or something like that. Other people may need other reasons to be motivated to get vaccinated," Cox said.
Not all residents are persuaded to get vaccinated after the announcement. "I think it's stupid that they have to bribe people to get the vaccine. I will never get it, I have always been opposed to it and neither will my children," said Jason Hilburn of Kansas City.
The governor also named a permanent health director -- filling that position for the first time since Dr. Randall Williams resigned in April. Parson named Don Kauerauf to lead the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Kauerauf was an assistant director with the Illinois Department of Public Health and chaired the state's Terrorism Task Force.
Kauerauf said he took the job in part because the governor's commitment to the well-being of Missourians was clear from the first meeting. His emergency management background gives him the ability to quickly respond to public health crises, he said.
Check back for more on this developing story or watch ABC 17 News tonight.