Missouri State University launches incentive program for students who receive COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 5:22 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri State University has launched an incentive program for students who receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The university is offering a variety of prizes, including a grand prize of free tuition, housing, meals, books, supplies, and a designated parking spot for an academic year valued at $28,000.

”If they have gotten vaccinated, or when they get vaccinated, they would be entered into a drawing,” said University Safety Director David Hall. “We’ve got a bunch of, you know, prizes for them that they could win, and some of those all the way up to some pretty significant grand prizes.”

Eleven students will win a grand prize package. The prizes range from a one-year unlimited meal plan worth about $2,594 to a full year of tuition and fees, housing, meal plan, books, and a parking space valued at $28,000.

“What we saw last year, and whenever our students returned to campus... we saw very quickly an increase in the number of cases as they’ve gotten together with other people,” said Hall. “So what we saw is a very quick rise in the number of cases, and so we’re really trying to avoid that this year. What we want to be able to do is bring students back safely. If we’ve got high rates of vaccination, then the probability of [COVID-19] spreading and really creating larger numbers that might require us to alter operations, it brings that probability down significantly.”

To be eligible, students must be vaccinated and taking at least one class at Missouri State.

“I think it’s really good,” said prospective student Erika Evans. “I think it’s super important that people get vaccinated, especially on school campuses, so that we can stop the virus stops running, and get back to normal.”

Every Friday from July 9-Sept. 17, the university will draw the names of five students who have been vaccinated and registered at the health and wellness center. Weekly prizes will include laptops, gaming systems, $400 textbook refund, and iPad.

While many students are excited about the possibility of winning prizes worth thousands of dollars, one parent says she’s not too sure how she feels about the incentives.

”I honestly have mixed feelings on it. And for those that want to be vaccinated, I think it’s great if they want to do it. For those that don’t, then I mean, I think it’s honestly just their choice,” said Sharla McKenny the parent of a prospective student.

Hall says last year the university spent $1 million on COVID-19 testing alone. He hopes the incentive program will encourage students to get vaccinated to prevent an outbreak on campus in the fall.

“We’ve got about $150,000 to do all the prizes,” said Hall. “And, you kind of compare that to the price of just strictly the cost of buying the tests, and didn’t including the staff time or any of the other expenses that you have related to that. So it really is a tremendous return on our investment.”

To encourage students to get vaccinated, the first 2,000 students who get vaccinated on campus after June 7 will receive a $25 gift card to the Missouri State Bookstore.

If a student receives a prize valued at more than $600, they will be responsible for the taxes on that prize and could affect their financial aid eligibility.

None of the colleges in Springfield are requiring students to be vaccinated but are highly encouraging it. Ozarks Technical Community College is not offering any incentives for students who get the vaccine or are currently vaccinated. Drury University and Evangel are considering offering students incentives, but nothing has been determined yet.

For more information on the vaccine incentive program, CLICK HERE.

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