Missouri Governor Mike Parson unveiled the “MO VIP” program last week. This campaign encourages unvaccinated Missourians 12 years old and up to get a COVID-19 shot. It offers cash prizes and education savings for tuition.
The Missouri COVID Vaccine website states, “Vaccination is the most effective and long-lasting tool for protection from this infection.” A total of 900 winners will be drawn from those who are already vaccinated as part of the incentive program.
During a press conference to announce this new initiative, the governor stated, “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 lottery details do not list anything about educating anyone on the vaccine, but they do display dates for prize drawings spanning from July 21 through Oct. 20.
In addition, local health care providers administering the vaccine are now eligible to offer a financial incentive for everyone who gets the shot. Each COVID-19 vaccine recipient is entitled to a $25 payment. This is estimated to cost the state up to $11 million.
Missouri is now one of many states offering prizes for taking the COVID-19 vaccine. In an effort to find out how both the vaccinated and unvaccinated feel about Missouri’s new initiative, The Epoch Times reached out to individuals and organizations to gain a broad understanding of varying positions.
Mary DeGrant of De Soto, Missouri, is a mother of two adult children and grandmother of six. She received the shot in the spring and said, “I’m glad that the vaccine lottery includes people like me who already got the vaccine.”
A musician from O’Fallon, Shawn McMullen, stated: “I have not been vaccinated and do not plan on it. Diet, exercise, vitamins are the key to a strong immune system. If you are living a healthy lifestyle, there should be no reason for you to get the jab. Lotteries and cash prizes should never be in the same conversion as vaccinations. Injecting foreign substances into your body should be a last resort. Who knows what side effects vaccinated people may experience in years to come? Only time will tell.”
William Mims expressed concern, specifically over the mRNA vaccines, “Some people in government want to have everyone stuck with a God knows what, ‘experimental’ material that will contain living RNA. Once this material is injected into your body, mechanisms have been developed to deliver this material to every cell, organ, vascular system, and membrane in your body. The RNA will be replicating itself for as far as we know now, the rest of your life, inside your body, creating spike proteins, which are not being shown to be particularly kind to us. A lot of great research is now being produced to chronicle what is actually taking place inside your body. I suggest anyone who advocates for this ‘vaccine’ review the data before telling thinking people what to do with their bodies.”
Since the Missouri lottery is open to anyone 12 years of age or older, a young student wished to speak on the subject. Anna Rose of St. Louis is going into the eighth grade in the fall.
Her parents allowed her to discuss the matter from a minor’s perspective. “I don’t want to get the vaccine, but if other people want to get it, that’s alright. I just don’t want to be forced to. I don’t think it’s good to bribe people with scholarships and money because people who don’t have lots of money or want to go to college will think: I’ll just get pricked with this and get something. They won’t think anything is wrong.”
When asked if the Missouri State Medical Association believes it is ethical to incentivize a vaccine that has not yet finished clinical trials, Executive Vice President Jeffrey Howell commented, “Yes. It’s ethical. We’ve been encouraging COVID vaccination all year.”
Throughout the course of the pandemic, many medical professionals have backed unprecedented measures. Because of this, movements like Right to Refuse have been formed. Their website lists their main goal as to, “Preserve Your Fundamental Right to Make Health Decisions Through Protective Legislation.”
Diane Miller, Juris Doctor of the Right to Refuse team, offered a statement on the current situation in states like Missouri which are offering prizes for vaccination. “The protection of the legal concepts of informed consent, where patients have the right to significant information about a medical intervention that would impact whether to accept or decline a product or procedure, is imperative to supporting a person’s fundamental right to make decisions about their own bodies. Incentivizing a person to make a decision one way or the other, outside of information discussed in the doctor/patient relationship, would be unethical. When government and corporations interfere with the doctor/patient relationship and health and medical decision-making by giving rewards to patients for compliance with government goals, then a dangerous abuse of power is initiated. Gimmicks and coercive policies not only undermine informed consent, but also reduce consumer confidence in public health policy. In our country, all individuals have the fundamental right to make health decisions for themselves and their families without coercion or discrimination.”
These varying perspectives reflect the current vaccination rate in Missouri. More than half of adults have been fully vaccinated, while the overall population remains closer to 40 percent.
The prizes offered by the MO VIP program are meant to increase these numbers, but whether it will be successful remains to be seen.