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Missouri announces ‘MO VIP’ vaccine incentive program

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Governor Mike Parson announces “MO VIP.” The COVID-19 vaccination incentive program includes cash prizes – from statewide drawings to cash from local health agencies that administer the shot.

Parson made the announcement this afternoon, July 21, 2021, during a press conference at the State Capitol.

Over the next three months, 900 Missourians who have or will choose to be vaccinated will win cash or education savings account prizes in the amount of $10,000.

“We understand that some Missourians are hesitant towards getting the vaccine, but we must all take personal responsibility and do right by our own health and that of our friends and family by getting vaccinated,” Governor Parson said. “This new program will complement our existing efforts to educate Missourians about the importance of getting the vaccine. Our current COVID-19 situation is serious. This Delta variant transmits faster than what we have previously seen and is more likely to impact children and the unvaccinated, so now is the perfect opportunity to get vaccinated and earn your shot at $10,000.”

The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) has hit Missouri hard recently. (Covid-19 Delta variant emerging in Kansas and Missouri)

According to Parson’s office, the MO VIP incentivizes vaccination for those who have not yet been vaccinated as well as provides an opportunity for rewards for the 2.8 million Missourians who have already made the decision to be protected through vaccination.

MO VIP CASH DRAWINGS

Parson’s office released the following about the program.

Missourians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are now able to enter to win one of the 900 prizes. The first drawing will be on August 13; drawings will occur every two weeks with the final drawing scheduled for October 8. Once Missouri residents receive a dose, they become eligible to enter the sweepstakes at MOStopsCovid.com/win. Once entered, their entry will be carried over through all the drawings. There is no need to enter more than once. The entry list will be reviewed, and duplicate entries will be removed prior to each drawing. A winner must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a living citizen of the United States and a permanent resident of the State 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 if receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, prior to the drawing date (records will be verified).

Those ineligible include the Governor and First Lady, individuals currently incarcerated on the basis of a felony conviction, statewide elected officials, members of the U.S. Congress and Missouri General Assembly, appointees of Governor Mike Parson, employees of the Office of Governor Mike Parson, the Office of the Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri Lottery, and the Office of Administration (and members of ineligible individuals’ households).

Entries will be divided into three categories:

  • Red:    Missourians age 18 and up receiving at least one dose of vaccine after July 21.
  • White: Missourians age 18 and up receiving at least one dose of vaccine before July 21.
  • Blue:   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 (10 from each congressional district). These individuals will each receive a cash prize of $10,000. During each drawing, 20 adolescents from the Blue category will be randomly selected to receive a $10,000 education savings account through the Missouri State Treasurer’s MOST 529 program. This means every two weeks of the program, 180 Missourians will be winners for a total of 900 individuals. These preliminary winners will all have their vaccination status verified.

To allow time for records and eligibility to be verified, confirmed winners will be announced two weeks following each drawing. Entries will be accepted online until 11:59 p.m. two days prior to each drawing. Official rules, frequently asked questions, and a program timeline are available at MOStopsCovid.com/win.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is partnering with Missouri Lottery to conduct a fair and secure program with a randomized selection process. DHSS is using federally funded Coronavirus Relief Funds to fund this campaign. This funding was approved under previous and current federal administrations for broad COVID-19 response purposes to include efforts to boost vaccine uptake.

Those without the ability to enter the sweepstakes online can get assistance by calling the COVID-19 hotline Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. at 877-435-8411.

Additional Incentives

Additionally, local public health agencies that administer COVID-19 vaccines will now be eligible to provide a financial incentive of up to $25 for each vaccine recipient, up to a total of $11 million. This program would provide incentives for administrators to pass along to recipients for 440,000 vaccines administered across Missouri and would sunset on December 31, 2021. Local public health agencies are able to partner with enrolled COVID-19 vaccinators within the State of Missouri to be part of this program. Vaccinators should apply by August 15 and can learn more about this opportunity at MOStopsCovid.com/vaccinators. This portion of incentives is being funded by CDC Immunizations grant funding.

Get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and find a vaccine near you at MOStopsCovid.com.

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CHC/SEK moves Pittsburg COVID-19 vaccine clinic

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas closes a vaccination center as demand for the COVID-19 vaccines decreases.

On May 14, 2021, they will close its center at 924 N. Broadway and move all Pittsburg vaccinations to the clinic at 3011 N. Michigan. The CHC/SEK still has Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines available. You can schedule an appointment to get the vaccine, but it’s no longer required.

COVID-19 vaccinations are also now available on a walk-in basis at all regional CHC/SEK clinics, according to Jason Wesco, Executive Vice-President.

“We continue to adapt in ways to help members of the community protect themselves against COVID-19 by allowing all eligible persons the convenience of walking into any of our clinics to receive their immunization without needing to schedule an appointment in advance,” he said.

If preferred, individuals can request a vaccine appointment on the CHC/SEK website chcsek.org. Click the COVID Vaccine Request button. After selecting the “first dose” button, there is an option to select the preferred vaccine. CHC/SEK representatives will contact the recipients to schedule a date for the vaccine.

For those without web access, the health center has a toll-free number, 866-888-8650 and a second number for Spanish-speakers 620-240-8940 to make vaccination appointments.

As with all COVID-19 vaccines, there is no out-of-pocket costs to vaccine recipients.

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Oklahoma opens COVID-19 vaccinations to all states

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma will begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations to residents of any state as Oklahoma’s vaccine supplies and vaccinations administered increased, deputy state Health Commissioner Keith Reed said Wednesday.

(Find more at KOAMNewsNow.com/vaccine)

Until now, Oklahoma had limited vaccinations to only its 4 million residents.

Now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Oklahoma has received more than 2.9 million vaccine doses and administered more than 2.1 million vaccinations. So, residents of any state will become eligible for vaccination in Oklahoma starting Thursday.

“While our focus has been and will continue to be on vaccinating Oklahomans, we have always known there would be a point at which supply and increasing capacity would allow us to welcome residents from neighboring states into Oklahoma to get vaccinated,” Reed said. “We are now reaching that point.”

According to the state health department, reported virus cases in Oklahoma increased Wednesday sharply, as predicted, by more than 1,700.

The department reported 441,906 virus cases since the pandemic began, an increase of 1,764 from Tuesday.

On Tuesday, state epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said a laboratory, which he declined to identify, thought it was properly reporting positive cases, but about 1,300 were not recorded into a new system the health department uses to track cases.

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Slots available for April 9 Freeman COVID-19 vaccination clinic

JOPLIN, Mo. – Freeman Health System invites residents to pre-register for Friday’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Starting April 9, all Missouri adults 18 and older can get the vaccine.

Freeman’s clinic is on Friday, April 9 from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

To register, you can call 417.502.SHOT for the vaccine or you can pre-register online at freemanhealth.com/service/covid-19. Pre-registration will prompt a return call from a Freeman employee to schedule a vaccination appointment.

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Parson says he won’t require vaccine passports in Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Governor Mike Parson won’t require “vaccine passports” in Missouri. He did however say he’s OK with private companies adopting them.

Parson spoke today during his afternoon press briefing regarding COVID-19.

With vaccine passports, travelers could document that they got the COVID-19 vaccination, or at least recently tested negative for the virus.

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“Get a Ride” to get Missouri residents to vaccine appointments

Southwest Missouri – Missouri launches a new transportation resource guide to expand COVID-19 vaccine access to rural, suburban and urban communities.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) launches “Get a Ride” to help address barriers to COVID-19 vaccine access. It can be found at MOStopsCovid.com/ride. You can find information for southwest Missouri here.

The Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution helped the DHSS with the project.

The “Get a Ride” guide gives free and low-cost transportation resources so residents can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“In Missouri, we recognize there is a significant amount of older adults, people with disabilities and low-income individuals who are at higher risk of contracting the virus and don’t have cars, don’t drive, don’t live near public transit and live in rural areas far from vaccination sites,” said Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution Co-Chair Sara Hart Weir. “Throughout our Missouri Advisory Committee on Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution meetings and discussions, access to affordable transportation kept coming up as a barrier to achieve equitable vaccine access. The goal of “Get a Ride” is to provide a comprehensive resource for Missourians to access free transportations in your local community to receive your COVID-19 vaccine.”

“Get a Ride” is now embedded throughout every aspect of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout infrastructure including the state’s COVID-19 hotline, MOstopsCovid.com, and through Missouri’s Regional Implementation Teams. You can customize the resources by location (region and county) for each vaccine event and site.

About the Providers

OATS and SMTS

Some providers, such as OATS and SMTS, normally serve older adults and individuals with disabilities. Now, they can help anyone in their service area with vaccination transportation.

“OATS is happy to be able to provide transportation to vaccination sites for individuals living in rural areas,” said Dorothy Yeager, OATS Transit Executive Director. “Since the first of March, OATS has provided over 480 trips to vaccination sites and the demand continues to grow. OATS looks forward to everyone getting fully vaccinated so that we can get back to normal. OATS will continue to provide this service in the rural communities where they have available vehicles and drivers.”

Ginny Smith, SMTS’ Director of Operations, added, “As the nation continues to recover from COVID-19, SMTS stays committed to helping Missourians as vaccines become available. Transportation should be the last worry when scheduling your appointment for your COVID-19 vaccine. Please contact your local SMTS location and let us assist you. Together, we all will continue to recover ‘Show Me Strong.’”

Area Agencies on Aging

The Area Agencies on Aging is also helping caregivers of older adults to help them get to vaccine appointments.

“Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging, ma4, indicates a key impediment to independence is access to transportation. Missouri’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) service every county in Missouri and provide reliable transportation, over 879,000 rides in 2020, for all of life’s needs to ensure older adults and individuals with disabilities have access to transportation,” said Ann McGruder, Executive Director, Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

HealthTran

Most of the transportation providers are able to provide this service at no cost. HealthTran offers reduced costs to their participants who book through them for transportation to a vaccine appointment.

MRHA’s HealthTran staff works with communities to assess their current transportation options. They help link community partners to resources that enhance their ability to increase transportation options.

Other Information

Lyft and Uber are not free or discounted in Missouri. Officials will add more transportation options to MOStopsCovid.com/ride as they become available.

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More Missourians will soon be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. –  Governor Mike Parson announces that around 2-million more Missourians will soon be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

Gov. Parson made the announcement during today’s briefing at the State Capitol. Missouri will activate Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan on Monday, March 29 and Phase 3 on Friday, April 9, 2021.

“With the progress we are currently seeing and vaccine supply expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks, we are well ahead of schedule with our vaccine plan,” Governor Parson said. “Supply projections are subject to change, but it is critical that we start preparing for this potential influx and ensure there is a consistent number of people who are eligible and interested in receiving a vaccine.”

The federal government expects significantly increasing COVID-19 vaccine allotments to Missouri by the first week of April.

The state says the timeline will help more residents get the vaccine without delays.

In Phase 2, the Governor’s Office says about 880,000 more Missourians will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The state says those residents are essential to economic recovery. They include those in construction, critical manufacturing, higher education, and remaining food and agriculture sectors. This also includes homeless and disproportionately affected populations with an emphasis on racial and ethnic minorities, among others.

All Missouri adults can get the vaccine under Phase 3. That includes an estimated 1.1 million Missourians who were not eligible under and other tier or phase. Read more about each phase at MOStopsCOVID.com/priority.

With all phases of Missouri’s Vaccination Plan activated, approximately 4.5 million Missourians will be eligible.

To date, one in four Missourians have initiated vaccination. About 50 percent of Missouri’s 65 and older population have initiated vaccination. Residents in currently activated phases will still be able to get the vaccine as Missouri moves forward.

“Missouri’s position is continuously improving on the COVID-19 front,” Governor Parson said. “With over 1.2 million Missourians having initiated vaccination, large increases in vaccine supply, and the activation of Phases 2 and 3, we are confident that we are winning the battle against COVID-19.”

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Rural counties helping move KS vaccination efforts along

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ks. — As different states enter new phases in the covid-19 vaccine distribution – Kansas remains in phase-two.

Rural health departments could be the secret weapon in moving the state along

Brian Caswell, Wolker Drug President, said, “A lot of people calling, a lot of people coming in asking to get the vaccine who just don’t qualify during the current phase.”

Rural areas often struggled with getting enough of covid-19 vaccines after it was announced. However as time has gone on, distribution has been going faster than in urban cities.

Dr. Timothy Stebbins, Crawford County Health Officer, said, “We are nearing the end by our estimation, of those that are in phase 2 or phase 1 which is a good thing.”

Healthcare officials attribute this to lower and more spread out populations like those in Crawford and Cherokee County.

“It’s a little easier to do 10,000 vaccines than it is to do 100,000 vaccines. We are more remote, more socially distanced, just by the nature of where we live.”

Counties in Southeast Kansas are now more ready to move on to phase three, but this isn’t the case for the entire state.

“It put’s us in a bit of a spot as we’re waiting for our state to move to phase three, and they will, they may need some help with some redistribution with vaccine to get those other areas in need.”

Health departments like Crawford County want to help in this effort though. Some vaccines could potentially be sent to more critical places, whether it’s a neighboring county or farther away.

“We’ll help them do that.”

“When a neighboring county, a neighboring Kansan, needs help, we are more than happy to go out and help them,” said Caswell.

To help get vaccines where they need to be, so the whole state can move towards a brighter future together.

“It’s nice to see when a healthcare crisis comes up like this that we all come together.”

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Missouri behind 28 states in vaccinating teachers

MISSOURI – In Missouri, teachers, faculty and staff are classified as Phase 1B, Tier 3 in the priority phases for vaccine distribution, same as food/agriculture, government and more.

Currently, Missouri is vaccinating Phase 1A and 1B, Tiers 1 and 2. But 28 states in the U.S. have already began vaccinating teachers and school staff, including most of Missouri’s surrounding states.

This is because school staff are higher up in vaccine priority in those states – which include Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois and Iowa.

On Feb. 10, five Missouri Teacher of the Year winners sent a letter to Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, expressing the need for “immediate vaccination” among school staff.

“We are humbly writing on behalf of the tens of thousands of Missouri public educators anxiously awaiting protection against COVID-19. We ask you to prioritize Missouri school teachers and support staff for immediate vaccination,” states the letter.

The letter explains that teachers have stepped up and risked their lives this year, being exposed daily, but may not be getting “viral protection” before the end of the school year. 

It mentions that the “lowered safety precautions that many schools are now implementing” indicate an “even more pressing need for Missouri educators to receive higher prioritization to the vaccine.” 

Williams responded to the letter by saying that with the limited amount of the vaccine available, “we must prioritize those most vulnerable.” 

Then on Thursday, from the Missouri State Capitol, Williams said Missouri is not considering moving school staff up in priority for the vaccine.

“Those people who are more likely to get sick, and quite bluntly, pass away if they get Covid, continue to be our focus,” Williams said.

Carthage Jr. High teacher Jamie Lindsey believes that school staff should be made a higher priority in receiving the vaccine for the safety of students and their families.

“I think we should be moved up because we are in the frontline when it comes to being out and being around Covid,” said Lindsey. “I have 150 students everyday and if I were to be infected, even with masks on, we still have the potential of spreading it, so I think it’s important that we try to keep the kids safe and try to keep their families safe.”

Should Missouri school staff be moved up in priority in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine? When the time comes, should employers push for school staff to be vaccinated or should it remain optional? 

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Missouri teachers send letter to state health director asking to be vaccinated now

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Teachers in Missouri sent a letter to the state health director to ask they be made a priority and to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

Teachers fall under Phase 1B, tier 3 in Missouri’s vaccination plan. Currently, the state is vaccinating Phase 1A and 1B, tiers 1 and 2, and Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Dr. Randall Williams said it could be the middle of March before the next tier is eligible. Educators are saying they’ve waited too long to be protected.

“I understand which tier we are in, but it is really important that we were vaccinated yesterday,” said Darrion Cockrell, Missouri Teacher of the Year.

More than 25 states in the US are currently vaccinating teachers, but Missouri is not one of them.

“They want their teachers to be there for their students because they know how important teachers are for those kids,” Cockrell said. “I wish and I hope that Missouri understands that we are just as important as those other teachers and that we need to be at the top of the list too.”

Letter sent to Missouri health director Dr. Randall Williams on behalf of teachers by KevinSeanHeld on Scribd

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Cockrell is an elementary physical education and health teacher in the Lindbergh School District and has been teaching for six years. He is one of five teachers who sent the letter to Williams. The other four teachers are also recipients of Missouri Teacher of the Year awards.

“The state wants us to be there for our kids, they want us to be in person, they want us to continue being there to support and be the foundation for our students, but at the end of the day we need to understand that we definitely care about our health and our lives,” Cockrell said.

Cockrell said teachers need to be vaccinated so they know they are protected.

“Once you are vaccinated, then you know you have that extra layer of protection which is what we need to be there for our kids,” he said. “We want to be there for our kids. That is a huge priority for us.”

The letter is asking the state to prioritize Missouri teachers and staff for the vaccine. It goes on to say some districts no longer identify close contacts and some schools are teaching without mask protocols.

“Being a teacher is hard but not having the support from your own state makes it harder because at the end of the day, we’re not safe. We’re not in a safe environment and we’re doing the best that we can with the resources we have, but we know there are more for us to have,” Cockrell said. “Once you’re vaccinated, then you know you have that extra layer of protection which is what we need to be there for our kids.”

Williams said in response to the letter:

We look forward to the day when supply increases to the point where we can vaccinate our teachers and enhance classroom safety. Right now, Missouri remains committed to protecting the more than 3 million senior citizens, health care providers, first responders and those with underlying health conditions who are currently eligible for the vaccine. With the limited amount of vaccine currently available, we must prioritize those most vulnerable. We remain hard at work on our goal to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to EVERY Missourian who wants to be vaccinated.

Cockrell said teachers and staff have to be around multiple people throughout the day, and do not know where those people have been or who they’ve been in contact with.

“I don’t want everyone to think that we as teachers feel like we are more important than the elderly or people in the tiers above us, but at the end of the day, we are all important,” Cockrell said.

He said most teachers he has spoken to say they want to get the vaccine, and they want to get it as soon as possible.

“I don’t think it’s okay for us to wait until the end of the school year when we’ve been around people all year long,” Cockrell. “It almost defeats the purpose. We want to finish the year off as strong as possible.”

According to DESE about 98 percent of school districts across the state are offering some type of in-person or hybrid learning. Cockrell said if teachers could get vaccinated, teachers, parents and students could have more confidence to return to school.

“I think the sooner we are able to get vaccinated, the sooner some of these kids can get back in school and the more confidence we have as teachers to teach the way that we want to,” Cockrell said.

Cockrell said the pandemic has reminded people how important teachers are.

“I think when parents either had to teach or be home with their kids’ full time, they understood the stuff we have to deal with, what we have to go through,” Cockrell said. “The silver lining made people understand how valued we are and how valued we should be and I hope the state sees that as well and get these shots out.”

Williams has previously said he hopes tier 3 will become eligible next month, pending the John and Johnson vaccine receives emergency use authorization.

Gov. Parson responded to the letter with the following statement:

We are doing everything we can to vaccinate as many Missourians as quickly as possible, and we look forward to the day when supply increases to the point where we can vaccinate our teachers. Right now, Missouri must remain committed to protecting the more than 3 million senior citizens, health care providers, first responders, and those with underlying health conditions who are currently eligible for the vaccine. It is critical that we prioritize those most vulnerable with the limited amount of vaccine currently available. Recent CDC reports indicate that COVID-19 transmission in schools is low and in-person learning does not commonly increase community spread. In Missouri, we have seen that with proper COVID-19 preventive measures in place, schools offer a controlled and structured environment that is unlikely to increase the risk of students or teachers contracting COVID-19. We remain hard at work to achieve our goal of providing the COVID-19 vaccine to EVERY Missourian who wants it as soon as possible.